Lets explore the most evident paradox of COVID19: a crisis within a green environment. We knew that a pandemic of this magnitude generates changes but what we didn’t know is that it can be so positive and promising in terms of the environment. So far what is happening in many spots of the world gives us hope that is possible: building green within a dark atmosphere. From dolphins in South coasts of Spain to jellyfish swimming in Venice´s channels, to lions sleeping in the middle of a highway in South Africa and a long etc. Drastic drops of pollution levels that also rise levels of hope and vision for a cleaner and healthy planet. Is it so, that, paradoxically, all ideas about sustainable cities shift into one solution: lockdown. Actually, stopping traffic and reducing movement of people to minimums represent the answer to ALL environmental problems or at least, from a quick and hyper-realistic view from reality. Just one month and Mother Nature “express” their impressions about the Man-Made impact. The release of a new clean environment exposes that there are no mysteries to success and the so-called “relentless” impact of climate change is it just a reversible effect in which we can become sustainable in the short term, not without challenges but certainly with assertiveness.
However, all built-in just one month can be erased when “back to normal life”. The world is upside down- or maybe not and is the first time that each element is in it´s place- and going back to normal is equal to environmental chaos and an extremely unsustainable way of living. Our role of humans with harmful behaviour towards the environment is being widely proven and in a very fast way, creating a dramatic change, although hopeful scenario of a clean environment. So, the challenge ahead is not about HOW we “build” sustainability but how we “keep it”
When changes happen externally there is no doubt that at personal and professional level we must take note and reflect about the ones we need to make to be adapted and contribute positively and effectively resolve the mystery of the “NEW”. My work with the Blog: thesustainabilityreader.com is precise as the title: “reshaping a new model of globalisation”. My conviction is that “being global” is more than a matter of circumstances but an attitude for addressing present and future challenges. However, -and that is the reason that I must mention it here- my capacity of adaptation moves further by accepting the fact that we cannot tackle this crisis by being “global” but by acting locally within international coordination.
For COVID19, global institutions are perfect for sending general rules on research and innovation, supporting countries, coordinated policies and knowledge sharing but not precisely on the action. Each country is different from the other in terms of impact on the population and their reactions –individual and politically-. The prevention in itself exposure that, not all policies can be global but adapted to each cultural and societal idiosyncrasy. For instance, in UK –as a difference from countries like Spain- at the beginning of the pandemic they do not ban people from going to parks, however, they have to change it as citizens do not respect social distancing. Although France has allowed its citizens for running on the streets, shortly after this resolution they removed it as there is not seems to be respectful compliance.
A global approach does not seem the answer but a collaborative attitude, as Mr. President Donald Trump said in relation to ventilators. “our States are loaded up… we are now in a position to help other countries that so desperately needed ”. A basic principle in emergencies.
Not global leadership –each country demands a different leadership- neither global policies can address the pandemic effectively, each place has its own colours that include: the health of their citizens, attitude to prevent the spread, public measures, weather and whole unknown elements that mark the mystery as to how the most developed countries with a faster response have the highest levels of infection, instead, those pseudos called developing countries as Yemen has almost 0 cases. A true kaleidoscope of colours that are making the scenario even more challenging from a global perspective, although perfect for international cooperation. And that includes the national focuses: in Spain, one of the most hit countries in the world has applied lockdown rules at national level, however, a small Spanish city called “La Graciosa” has 0 cases and is living the impact of a close down with only economic consequences not really on health terms.
My last reflection is a paradox as the situation that we are living, claiming for flexibility and adaptation to new challenges without fear of not being consistent with ourselves. I am an active, passionate, and enthusiastically defender of a global –reshaped-model but also an advocate of effective action plans. COVID-19 forces us to think that a global criterion is not precisely the answer but international coordination. Adapting the colour of each country/culture into a kaleidoscope of solutions. Determining attitude, generosity to accept changes and capacity to adapt our work to challenges: key aspects to success and make a sustainable transition into a brand new world….
Learning from paradoxes…