This is the fourth installment of a series in collaboration with the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) Japan, which will explore how the coronavirus pandemic has revealed the need for a reset of the world’s economic and social systems.

Is COVID-19 driving globalization into reverse? On at least one metric — the number of people crossing international borders — the answer seems to be yes.

Global air travel is down more than 90% since the pandemic began, after decades of consistent increases. Airlines are hemorrhaging money and laying off staff, the tourism industry is on its back and millions of people are wondering when they will be able to dust off their passports again. Our once relentlessly shrinking world suddenly seems big again, its faraway places newly inaccessible.