Sunday 15 November 2020 11:26 am

Our recovery from Covid-19 is a chance not to build walls, but to cooperate

William Russell is Lord Mayor of the City of London.

As we make our way through the second round of national Covid-19 restrictions, life today is very different to what we expected 12 months ago.

The UK last week passed the tragic milestone of 50,000 deaths linked to this terrible virus, while many businesses and households across the country continue to struggle due to the economic fallout.

These are tough times. And yet, I am confident that there will be light at the end of this long tunnel. London has endured through plagues, fires and countless other disasters in the past, and there is no reason why we cannot once more rise to this challenge by building back better.

So as I start my second full year as lord mayor — the first to serve a second year in office since 1861 — it is clear to me that we must use this time to prepare and ensure that London is in the best possible shape when the recovery restarts.

That is why I was delighted last week when the City of London Corporation, alongside the World Economic Forum and the Green Finance Institute, brought together a range of global voices at the Green Horizon Summit.

A number of welcome announcements were made, notably the chancellor’s commitment to issuing the UK’s first green gilt in 2021 and setting out a pathway towards mandatory climate disclosures. This demonstrates the critical role that the City has to play in supporting the transition to net zero, and in doing so driving our economic recovery forwards.

Regulation also has a vital role to play in underpinning our recovery. At a virtual event alongside the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Bank of England last week, I stressed the need to place innovation, agility and openness at the heart of our regulatory framework.

That is why we are supporting the government’s Fintech Strategic Review, alongside Innovate Finance. It is also why we are working with the FCA on their Digital Sandbox Pilot, which will allow companies to test their new products and services — especially those innovatively tackling challenges related to or exacerbated by coronavirus — in a safe environment.

In order to remain globally competitive, it is also important that we turn towards our international partners rather than away from them.

Open trade has always been a cornerstone of our culture. I firmly believe that the only way we are going to manage the economic recovery from Covid-19 is to cooperate, not build walls.

The City of London Corporation is therefore calling for a return to global regulatory coherence in the lead-up to the UK’s presidency of the G7 and our hosting of COP26 next November.

Fragmentation only breaks what we have built together. It is bad for business and bad for consumers, which is why our policy chair Catherine McGuinness has been engaging closely with the UK government and the European Union to ensure a deal is struck. By creating a new relationship, built on strong regulatory cooperation, we can collaborate on common challenges such as climate change.

Life may continue to look very different over the coming months, but by working together we can emerge from this period stronger and greener.

Main image credit: Getty

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.