Building Trust, Confidence and Collective Action in the Age of COVID-19

by , | Apr 8, 2020

“The Chinese government first reported “cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology” to the World Health Organization on Dec. 31, 2019. A week later, the new virus responsible for the disease outbreak was identified. Less than 100 days later, we no longer live in the world we woke up to on New Year’s Day.”

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to unfold at speed, most governments have been seen to be lagging behind in their response to the crisis, leading to a rapid decline in confidence, trust, and goodwill.

So how, in a time when these things are needed more than ever – in fact, are crucial if we’re to formulate an effective response to the coronavirus pandemic – do we halt the decline?

As we write in Building Trust, Confidence and Collective Action in the Age of COVID-19, our latest article for World Politics Review, it’s not too late – leaders and individuals alike still have the chance to create such a response, to address a shared threat with a shared response that is dynamic, innovative, and diverse.

Resisting the slide towards polarisation, harnessing the power of the “Larger Us” rather than retreating into “them-and-us” rhetoric, will be key. So too will protecting the trust that enables us to work together, while simultaneously neutralising the forces that work to push us apart.

From watching out for new markers of privilege to ensuring mental health is treated seriously, from nurturing grassroots efforts at community level to taking discussions global, we share our plans for safeguarding trust, building confidence, and promoting collective action in the full article. Read it here: Building Trust, Confidence and Collective Action in the Age of COVID-19.


  • David Steven is a senior fellow at the UN Foundation and at New York University, where he founded the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a multi-stakeholder partnership to deliver the SDG targets for preventing all forms of violence, strengthening governance, and promoting justice and inclusion. He was lead author for the ministerial Task Force on Justice for All and senior external adviser for the UN-World Bank flagship study on prevention, Pathways for Peace. He is a former senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of The Risk Pivot: Great Powers, International Security, and the Energy Revolution (Brookings Institution Press, 2014). In 2001, he helped develop and launch the UK’s network of climate diplomats. David lives in and works from Pisa, Italy.

  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.

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