Protecting lives and livelihoods was the challenge facing the world as soon as it became clear that covid-19 was here to stay. Governments around the world struggled to find the difficult balance between the two. Shutting down sectors that support millions of people, to keep them safe from the virus, could only be a short-term measure. It is premature to say that any country has successfully dealt with the virus, as we still don’t know how this pandemic will play out.

As we prepare to face further waves of the virus, there are lessons which can already be learnt and applied. In this issue we look at the challenges – and opportunities – that lie ahead.

Bangladesh’s economy was prevented from plummeting with the creation of a sizeable stimulus package, and a controlled reopening of key sectors. But do we have the necessary data to shape the recovery strategy? In this issue, Akhtar Mahmood takes a look at how effective monitoring can help unlock the potential of the country’s pandemic-era policy actions and get the best out of the private sector in the process. In terms of personal data, we are faced with a different challenge. Anita Ghazi Rahman and Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury examine how data protection and data security are more crucial than ever, as the “new normal” has led to unprecedented amounts of personal information being generated by users.

It is clear that Bangladeshis have opted to live with the virus and the lockdown fatigue is real. Yet there is no room for complacency. Until a vaccine becomes widely available globally, life will continue to be a series of calculated risks. However, in the case of wearing masks, complacency is exactly what seems to be setting in after a good start. Jason Abaluck and Mushfiq Mobarak looks at how this can be put back on track and why it is so important.

As the world economy lurches towards a generation defining recession, resuscitating economic growth has become a global priority. Imran Ahmed and Syed Mafiz Kamal takes an in-depth look at how a job-centric recovery is a viable option with particular gains to be made in agriculture. The countryside is also the central theme of K.A.S. Murshid’s article, which highlights the convergence of factors that can turn the rural non-farming sector into a key driver of the post-covid-19 economy.

While countries continue to lockdown, shut and re-open borders, the pandemic has also changed the nature of cross-border cooperation. Shahidul Haque and Nashita Behroz Jalil look at the geopolitical consequences, and opportunities, facing Bangladesh in the post-covid-19 world order.

Recovery cannot be about growth and economics only. In her interview Eeshita Azad talks about how a closer working relationship between the creative community and the government is more vital than ever.

We approach the end of 2020 with mixed feelings; the world is a very different place to what it was one year ago. An age-defying virus remains a threat. Yet, there is also hope. There are initial signs of successful vaccines being developed, and we can start to envision a post-covid-19 world. The contributors of this issue and the WhiteBoard team have sought to untangle some of these challenges and opportunities – we hope you will enjoy their contributions and continue this important conversation with us.

Radwan Mujib Siddiq
Radwan Mujib Siddiq is a trustee of the Centre for Research and Information. He is a strategy consultant and youth advocate. He is also the patron of ground-breaking political history projects such as the graphic novel Mujib and Hasina: A Daughter's Tale, a docu-film. He advises various international organizations and government agencies on strategy and communications. He pursued his graduate studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science.