It’s time to hit refresh and rebuild for a better, more inclusive, more sustainable, fairer, healthier, peaceful and prosperous future for all. This is the opportunity of a lifetime to improve the lifetimes of so many.
Historically, global crises have given people the chance to re-evaluate their world, break from the past and imagine a different future. Given just how clearly Covid-19 has highlighted the fragilities and inequalities of systems of all kinds globally, from healthcare, finance and supply chains to education, energy and agriculture, it would be an enormous shame if nothing changed for the better once this pandemic has subsided and if this rare opportunity to reset certain aspects of economies, societies and our planet was wasted. This crisis, which has caused such major health, social, economic, political and environmental disruptions, should act as a loud wake up and stay awake call about our interdependence, the serious infectious threats we face which exploit global vulnerabilities resulting from systemic inequalities, and about how usually we panic about but do not adequately prepare for such threats. We have had close calls with previous outbreaks and this time we must heed the lessons and cannot ignore the warning signs at our own peril again. Leaders across the world have adopted the language of ‘war’ when referring to the pandemic and invisible enemy we face and this is the most severe crisis on a global scale since World War Two, out of which a new order was born with institutions like the United Nations. Wars typically lead to reconstruction and many consider this to be a turning point for our world as we stand at a crossroads presented with a choice between short term patchwork fixes with a desire to return to ‘business as usual’ or looking forward and working towards building a new social contract where we change the nature, directions and priorities of our lifestyles, mindsets and business models in order to ensure greater social justice and that nobody is left behind.
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We all have a role to play as individuals and organisations and building new systems that are fit for purpose for the 21st century and Fourth Industrial Revolution that has been accelerated by the crisis requires a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder and intergenerational mobilisation effort that takes into account all voices. We face a make or break moment and it is our sincere hope that in spite of the devastation, it can act as a catalyst towards reform agendas which put sustainable development, humanity and our planet at the heart of global value creation to achieve a symbioses between planet, people and profit, the so called magic triple bottom line. Such rebalancing must occur in solidarity with those most vulnerable and developing nations, and must combat divisiveness and systemic discrimation which has caused immense suffering and been a lived reality for so many people. Societal introspection and talking about unconscious biases, disparities across the board, particularly with regards to racial equality and opportunity, can be uncomfortable but it is necessary in order for growth and systems level change to happen. Fundamentally, we must recognise that inequalities, in all their forms, threaten and take lives – threatening people, threatening communities, threatening hopes and threatening dreams. The pandemic’s deep and lasting ramifications have impacted our entire world in different forms but we have the unique chance to shape its legacy so that it is not just one of tragedy and loss. This kind of ambition will require unprecedented levels of collaboration but some of the silver linings we have seen from this crisis are that we are able to make rapid and radical changes to usual practices when we need to and are willing to make sacrifices for the greater good, to volunteer support others and to show kindness and cohesion. Recent protests and the huge growth in support for social justice movements have shown the paradigm shift in public consciousness. We must harness this momentum as we look to collectively heal and recognise that all human beings deserve dignity, respect and care. Progress and policies that previously seemed like a pipedream are gaining support and we must turn will to action to live up to humanity’s highest ideals and develop a better, more inclusive, more sustainable, fairer, healthier, peaceful and prosperous future for all.
In addition to providing support addressing the most pressing immediate needs in this crisis, we also seek to advocate for longer-term structural improvements that strengthen resilience both to future shocks and the other challenges we face, and that lead to important, enduring societal changes which tackle key inequalities and ruptures that the crisis has so clearly exposed. The three main categories we are focussing on are:
Strengthening healthcare systems and pandemic preparedness, coupled with public health reforms around mental health and better working conditions and pay for essential workers.
Harnessing the current momentum to encourage a global youth-led movement towards greater volunteering participation and community engagement efforts as well actively supporting and including young people in the rebuilding of our societies
Addressing the major inequalities that are being exacerbated both by the pandemic and the response to it, with the goal of rebuilding a better, more inclusive, and healthier planet for everyone and the realisation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.