By: Pablo Emiliano Reyes Galindo
I am a different person than three months ago when the pandemic started. I guess no one though a tiny virus could change all the socio-economic structures of society, and yet, here we are, presented with a “new normal”. In my country, Mexico, the effects were belated, but now we see the disruptive effect of the pandemic in Latin America and the world. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the tricephalic crisis —sanitary, human & economic — will have unprecedented effects, including an increase on unemployment of 5.3 to 24.7 million people or more, the worst economic contraction in the history of Latin America with a projected -5.3% drop, and of course, the thousands of people who are dying every day.
And to make things more dire, the effects of the pandemic have the biggest impact in the most vulnerable groups, including the youth. This will widen the intergenerational inequalities gap and hinder the development and wellbeing of millions of young people.
Right now, we are in the most important crossroad humanity has ever faced since the end of the Second World War. The covid-19 pandemic, sped up the fracturing of globalization; joining the three crises mentioned before, the social justice crisis and the climate crisis create an anxious spectacle, the United Nations faces a five headed hydra and we can only defeat it, by working together through cooperation and multilateralism.
The UN should be the spearhead on creating a new, sustainable, green, inclusive, and fair world. There must be coordinated governance to deal with the multiple crises and solve the problems together. The UN could help governments around the world to create plans and strategies to recover from covid-19 pandemic and mobilize resources. The UN has always worked for the peace and security of nations, today, countries should share the knowledge of their best practices for recovery but also a coordinated action to help the developing countries since they are going to be greatly affected, not only in the health aspect, but greatly damaged on the economy. To do so, we need resilient strategies and inclusivity based on sustainable development and a gender lens. For example, the youth can be catalysts of change and of resilient societies.
But it’s not only about economic growth, in fact, we must see ahead of just measuring wellbeing through GDP, we must include new indicators to have a more holistic view of human development and sustainability. For examples, Kate Raworth created an economic model in which humanity is kept in the social and planetary boundaries to create a safe and just XXI century. It is an inclusive perspective that puts humanity before economic growth, and progress for everyone.
For our luck, we already have a roadmap, the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, this decade is crucial for the UN, since we must shift gears and apply turbo, so all the goals are addressed, and no one is left behind. But to start making a change, we must first address the SDG13, climate action. Climate change will bring unprecedented challenges if we don’t act now, according to Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, we are in a critical decade, we have to change our Business as Usual path, because “it is no exaggeration to say that what we do regarding emissions reductions between now and 2030 will determine the quality of human life on this planet for hundreds of years to come”.
Therefore, we need to change the paradigm to a green vision. According to the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, governments should have a sustainable recovery, because if our world is to become more resilient “we need to do everything in our power to promote a green recovery”. What this means is including measures to emerge from the pandemic triumphantly while fighting climate change, which is the biggest existential crisis of humanity. Covid-19 is the crisis of the moment, climate change is the crisis of the century. To achieve this, countries must use public support wisely and commit to a decarbonization. Also, they must promote green finance so we can see a mobilization of investment to green technology like renewable energy, finally achieving the Paris Agreement should become a priority.
I started this essay by saying that I am a different person since the beginning of the pandemic, this is because I have become aware of the importance of a “new normal” that defies the past paradigm. The UN must be the catalyst of this change. We have no other options; we need to rebuild and create a better future for all.