This policy brief aims to promote a holistic mindset about the COVID-19 pandemic by 1) applying a complexity lens to understand its drivers, nature, and impact, 2) proposing actions to build resilient societies to pandemics, and 3) deriving principles to govern complex systemic crises. Building resilience to prevent, react to, and recover from systemic shocks need to become a core element of how societies are governed. This requires an integrated approach between health, social, economic, environmental, and institutional systems.
As an immediate next step, national governments should set up transdisciplinary entities tasked with assessing systemic risks and proposing policies and institutions to strengthen resilience according to their respective context. Investments should be commensurate with the impacts of pandemics on societies. Finally, given global inter-connectedness, multilateral initiatives should converge towards the adoption of a global action plan to foster societal resilience to systemic crises. Crucially, transformative governance in the age of complexity rests upon the willingness to implement visionary actions that shape resilient, inclusive, and sustainable societies.