Applying COVID-19 Lessons to Other Global Threats

By Henriette Weber, +SocialGood Connector

Henriette Webber, +SocialGood Connector

As the 76th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) progressed, followed by the G20 Summit, and later, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), I felt overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the challenges that the world faces. Overwhelmed by COVID-19. Overwhelmed by the climate crisis. Some days, I even wake up and think: “are we ever going to have a breakthrough”? But being an optimist at heart, I still think a breakthrough is coming. There are huge challenges that our planet must grapple with, but we’ve also seen the development of significant solutions. I think that the three events I mentioned have led to many important conversations and commitments to make the world a better place.

Through my experiences working in media to NGOs to the energy sector, I’ve seen how the green transition is being worked on everyday by multiple actors through diverse approaches.I also see how my country, Denmark, is again a beacon of hope when it comes to handling COVID-19, and how it has almost gone back to “normal” — at least, in my perspective. We just had our first 50,000-person concert in Copenhagen, and all restrictions related to masks and distancing have been lifted. I also feel safer because I had my 2nd vaccine dose back in March 2021. Through measures such as social distancing and widespread vaccination, Danish society has been able to get back on track.

However, looking at the rest of the world, there are so many countries still struggling with COVID-19. I was shocked to learn at UNGA that only 1 in 47 low-income economies have been vaccinated (compared to 1 in 2 high-income economies — these figures further reflect the inequities that come with economic disparity. It is also troubling that low-income countries may not have access to the vaccine before 2023 at the earliest.

COVID-19 is a disease that has taken 4.5 million lives globally, but even though it’s tragic, we can also look at it as a key experience in how quickly the world can mobilize solutions to dire threats. If we are challenged and pushed to face global challenges, we can mobilize solutions quickly and effectively .

As a lot of people have been wondering, I am also asking myself: “why can’t we mobilize as quickly when it comes to climate action?” Why do we only look towards new technologies to save the world?

Because, as I see it, we could also choose to look at old technologies, indigenous technologies, or “lo-tek” as Julia Watson puts it in her book, .’We could also choose to look at old religious rituals as a way to lighten our spirits and make positive progress to heal ourselves and to heal the world.

I believe that we need to look at both existing technologies that have been used for centuries, such as planting mangroves for flooding and CO2 capturing, as well as creating huge storage facilities where we can keep wind and solar energy. The future is here now and speed is of the essence.

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