Meridian Exchange | April 2020

Meridian believes that the United States is stronger at home when globally engaged and international cooperation is vital to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to connect government, business and diplomatic leaders to collaborate on these challenges and other global issues through our virtual programs outlined below. Please contact community@meridian.org to join our efforts.


Meridian connects global and business leaders to weigh in on COVID-19 response 

As the world battles the unprecedented nature of COVID-19, Meridian is bringing global leaders together with the business community to exchange shared challenges and discuss solutions to combating the spread of the pandemic. Meridian has hosted conversations with His Excellency Ashok Mirpuri, Ambassador of the Republic of Singapore; Ambassador Nestor Forster, Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Brazil; and private sector leaders including United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz and representatives from 3M, Intuit and Emerson to offer perspectives on navigating the health crisis, unanimously remarking that a successful response to the virus depends on a unified approach from the private and public sectors. Ambassador John Lange, Senior Fellow for Global Health Diplomacy at the United Nations Foundation, asserted that every nation must coordinate on a concrete action plan to ensure the world is ready if and when the next global emergency occurs. Read more here.

European leaders stress solidarity

Italy and Spain have seen first-hand how quickly this virus can spread, and the ambassadors of each country say containing requires solidarity. Spanish Ambassador Santiago Cabanas and Italian Ambassador Armando Varricchio joined Meridian for a virtual conversation on the positive signs their countries have seen so far in tackling the virus, noting that their partnerships with neighboring European countries have helped immensely. While individual governments must prioritize the health of their citizens when developing new regulations, a coordinated global effort is imperative to ensure the safety of all people. In Germany low death rates and empty hospital beds serve as a global example of an effective, coordinated response to the pandemic. German Ambassador Dr. Emily Haber also joined Meridian in early April for a virtual conversation on managing the coronavirus — attributing Germany’s success to a ‘head-start’ in addressing the pandemic due to the government closely tracking major outbreaks in China, Italy and Spain. Read more on our conversation with the Italian and Spanish ambassadors here, and our conversation with Ambassador Haber here.

Insights on U.S. response to a global issue

Meridian continues to connect U.S. government leaders to provide greater insight on American efforts to combat the global pandemic to the diplomatic and business communities. On April 1, Meridian welcomed White House Coronavirus Task Force member Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), for a virtual conversation on the steps that DHS is taking to mitigate the spread of the virus. DHS is looking to FEMA to handle the immediate disaster response for COVID-19 while encouraging U.S. governors to buy the necessary medical equipment directly from the consumer market. As the federal government works to keep an eye on real-time changes within the supply chain for the first time, gaining visibility into the consumer market itself has been the main obstacle it faces. To gain insight into measures the White House is taking to combat the virus, Meridian hosted Kellyanne Conway, Senior Counselor to the President, on April 7 for a virtual briefing with more than 130 members of the foreign diplomatic corps and private sector. Conway asserted that protecting American citizens and keeping the economy afloat remain the top priorities for the Trump Administration. Read more on our conversations with Chad Wolf and Kellyanne Conway.

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