2021 started with much hope. Vaccines revealed a road to a post-coronavirus world. COP-26 could pave a path to a greener, cleaner future. New political leaders promised to find a route around the divisions of the past.
There was, however, a genuine sense of déjà vu as 2021 drew to a close. Mutations of the coronavirus kept many countries under tight restrictions, global cooperation continued to falter, and, in many respects, old divisions only felt more entrenched.
What might 2022 hold in store? There is undoubtedly a sense of trepidation as we head into the new year. But bubbling beneath is a cautious optimism that the defining issue of the last two years – the pandemic – is lurching into its final days. With the assistance of vaccines, the omicron variant looks significantly less of an existential threat to our society. The present public services policy paradigm has been almost entirely defined by the pandemic. So what might fill this space in a post-pandemic world?
Three key themes in 2022 will be:
Where will this leave us come twelve-months’ time, we don’t know. However, even if we are truly within reach of a ‘post-pandemic’ world, the ripple effect of Covid-19 on all aspects of society will still be felt. As we emerge from the period of crisis, the increasingly challenging economic and social landscape reveals itself, meaning more and more is being asked of public services with fewer and fewer resources.
It is a time when policy innovation will not just be nice, it will be necessary if we are going to overcome the challenges ahead.