5 points for leaders to keep in mind ahead of NEDLAC Summit

The 28th NEDLAC Summit is on Friday (8 September 2023) and focuses on how social partners and government can work together in short and long-term crisis situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency. 

Top global economist and director of the South African Economic Modelling Academy at GIBS in Johannesburg, Dr. Asghar Adelzadeh, argues that to prepare for crises, you need to incorporate the near and foresight that modelling brings into planning and collaboration. 

He offers 5 key guidelines for policymakers, economists, planners, civic leaders, strategists and government officials to keep in mind as the nation seeks to plan better for socio-economic, health and environmental crises. 

  1. Measurement is essential: “To understand, plan, design interventions, and to monitor progress and fine tune policies we need to measure. Measurement requires taking existing data and modelling its trajectories into different future scenarios to ensure preparedness across a broad range of possible outlooks,” said Dr. Adelzadeh. 
  2. Looking ahead is as important as looking back: “We need to use models that reflect the reality of the economy and provide executive decisionmakers with foresight to pull on the right policy levers at the right time, especially in times of crises,” added Dr. Adelzadeh. “This means actively investing in modelling; and building policy that aligns with what the trajectories show will be the reality.”
  3. It’s better to face challenges than avoid them: “Good policy is needed to effectively address low growth, high unemployment, poverty and inequality” he said. “Economies that have higher growth and a lower incidence of social challenges tend to fare better in crisis. The opposite is true for those which don’t – and we have seen and are feeling this in the South African case. But this does not mean we are without hope. There are known policy pathways and models that can be applied to right the economic engines. We just need to commit to them.”
  4. Capacity is critical, without it we don’t know what we don’t know: “In a complex world, with complex, interlocked crises snowballing together, we need new kinds of skills sets,” said Dr. Adelzadeh. “Now is the time for leaders and all levels of government to invest in training to use advanced tools to design and test economic and social policy and measure their impact in real-time so we can keep up with fast-paced change as it happens.”
  5. Using the right tools is the smarter option: “Economic models are advanced tools that help leaders see the impact and outcomes before, during and after implementation,” he said. “Nothing is more effective for dealing with both short-term and longer-run crises. We have the tools in hand, we now need to use them more effectively. 

Training in economic modelling puts powerful impact and outcomes information in the hands of those who need it, including NEDLAC constituency partners, and it is desperately needed in South Africa.

“This type of modelling is used by leading global economies already, and applied effectively in South Africa, could unlock our potential and avoid negative realities such as those outlined in the Indlumamithi Scenarios,” he added. 

“This means putting in place urgent backstops for our current and most pressing complex crises of inadequate economic growth, unemployment, sharp inequalities, low levels of fixed investment and frail social capital, so we can absorb other shocks in the future.”  

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