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A Sobering Year End Reflection

As we come to the end of 2021 and look toward a brighter 2022 it’s important to take stock of where we are as a planet. Because as a travel community, Going Global Fans really do understand that they are part of an international collective. In our interconnected world we can only return to normal travel and normal business routines when the whole world comes out of its long COVID slumber.

The help put things in perspective we want to go back to the opening remarks by World Bank Group President David Malpass at the 2021 Annual Meetings. We think this is a good summary of the current state of the planet and what we have to do to move forward together.

“As you know, the world is suffering from a dramatically uneven recovery. Inequality is worsening across country groups. Per capita income in advanced economies is growing nearly 5% in 2021, but that is compared to only 0.5% in low-income countries.  The outlook remains grim for most of the developing world. There’s high inflation, there’s too few jobs, there’s shortages that extend to food, water, and electricity.    

For example, due to the pandemic, the factory and port shutdowns going on, the bottlenecks in logistics and supply chains are worsening. We see sharp increases in the backlog of orders. Our estimates suggest that 8.5% of global container shipping is stalled in or around ports. That’s twice as much as in January of 2020. These disruptions are placing sharp price increases on shipping fees, and the final costs of goods, and some of them will not be transitory. It would take time and cooperation of policymakers across the world to sort them out.  

As we look at development, the pandemic is pushing up the poverty around the world. It’s already pushed nearly 100 million people into extreme poverty. That’s the added number in extreme poverty. We’re witnessing a tragic reversal in development. 

The progress in reducing extreme poverty has been set back by years – for some, by a decade. And it’s vital that we address this head-on by redirecting policies in both the advanced economies and developing countries so that growth and investment are more widespread. 

Our highest priority is to secure access to vaccines and speed up shots in arms.

The World Bank is able to finance the doses and the deployment, but there needs to be early deliveries scheduled, so we are urging governments that have sufficient doses to swap early deliveries to allow for vaccinations in developing countries and we are urging the finance ministers and health ministers of developing countries to enter contracts in order to get deliveries early, as soon as possible of vaccines. And we’re working with countries also to reduce the hesitancy to encourage the vaccination of people. Our observation through the Task force, and through our country programs, is that when the countries are able to get vaccines, people are being vaccinated and the vaccination rate is going up consistently, when the supply is available. 

The World Bank’s support for the poorest countries is at an all-time high. We’re working to help countries secure more doses and deploy them. I was in Sudan and Jordan, where I witnessed firsthand—this is now two weeks ago, seems like yesterday—vaccination efforts, and they are accelerating. I’m pleased, the World Bank now has 250 million doses under contract with Bank financing. Those deliveries will be going on in the coming months, and that is very important to saving lives.”

We end the year as a planet with some good news and some bad news and hopefully an understanding and collective agreement on what we want to accomplish in the year ahead.