It is undeniable that Covid-19 has brought about fundamental changes in the world of work globally, and the City’s International Relations was not spared either.
The City has had to re-imagine the world of work to ensure we bring about innovation and sustainability in the face of dealing with the impact of Covid-19.
The pandemic has brought about a change in approach to international relations in the global architecture. It has compelled the City to evaluate how Covid-19 has affected our global stakeholders, how their priorities may have changed, as well as a real challenge of a loss of diplomats and other officials due to Covid-19 complications.
Against this backdrop, diplomats worldwide are facing a multitude of challenges in their work, and City diplomats are not immune either. Diplomats have had to migrate most of their work output to adapt to virtual platforms while phasing out or holding off face-to-face engagements.
The City was also faced with making a shift from face-to-face international engagement to virtual diplomacy. Lockdown Level 5 forced the City to explore technological platforms to allow for the continuation of international dialogue. The City also needed to enable continued advancement of its international relations agenda.
It was interesting to note that some of the City’s virtual engagements gathered more traction and had more participants than the traditional methods. Ease of access afforded more people to participate and to get involved.
The new virtual environment demands that agents of diplomacy be agile and be in a position to change the pace of executing work at a fast rate. However, when engaging virtually at conferences, webinars, roundtables and other scenarios, there is no opportunity to caucus with colleagues and the City’s diplomats have had to trust their instincts and expertise.
With the advent of Covid-19, the City has migrated the normally robust face-to-face Diplomatic Corps engagements, the International Relations Roundtable Dialogue and the International Relations Forum to virtual platforms and the attendance has been satisfactory, with stakeholders engaging in discussions in a robust manner.
In light of all of this, it’s suffice to say virtual diplomacy is here to stay, even post Covid-19.
Written by Thusani Mulaudzi, Deputy Director: International Relations and Global Networks