2020 will go down in history as a year of global health, economic and social crises occurring against the backdrop of increasingly catastrophic climate events. It is a year that defines disruption. However, as we jump into 2021, I’m taking a cue from last season’s development optimists to look for how to convert crisis into opportunity. This year, I will explore with my guests how they see us leveraging disruption for good in a post-COVID world.
The One Health concept calls for a worldwide approach to expanding interdisciplinary collaboration and communication on all aspects of health for humans, animals and the environment. This approach has tremendous implications for human health because an estimated sixty-one percent of human infectious diseases originate from animals. At the same time, there is a growing sense of urgency to advance One Health collaborations before more ground is lost in the fight for a healthy planet.
In the 2019 season of A Deeper Look podcast, we examined the darker side of development — the unintended consequences of development efforts, the paradoxes that we confront, the harm that the best intentions can sometimes cause and the lessons we can learn by discussing uncomfortable, even threatening, topics.
Each one of my guests brought a unique perspective to this theme, yet it’s possible to distill a number of common concerns. More than one guest described the long-term nature of development as a journey, and many emphasized the importance of humility in this work. Although our theme for the year was dark, the perspectives, insights and commitment of my guests give me hope that we, as a community, are more willing to acknowledge our weaknesses and do better.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to tune in, I encourage you to listen to all of the episodes in this season’s A Deeper Look on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud or wherever you get your podcasts. Here are some takeaways.
Are our growth-based models of modernization at odds with sustainable development? Does addressing environmental concerns need to take a back seat to economic growth in order to alleviate poverty? And is it reasonable to expect people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from to care about the environment?
In this episode, I sit down with Heather Tallis, Global Managing Director and Lead Scientist for Strategy Innovation for the Nature Conservancy, who dispels the myths and assumptions around the interplay of conservation and safeguarding the environment with meeting human needs and raising living standards. Marshaling the evidence, Heather makes the case that there doesn’t have to be a tradeoff between economic growth and poverty alleviation and conservation and that development goals and environmental goals can go hand in hand.
We live in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world. The risks to much of the world’s population that stem from climatic, political and economic fluctuations have played out again and again in recent years. While emergency response and humanitarian aid still have an important role to play, the development community is increasingly interested in how to build the resilience of individuals, communities and systems not only to survive these shocks and stresses, but also to adapt to them and better prepare for future occurrences.
There is no single solution for building resilience, as it is highly dependent on the population in question, the risks they face, local infrastructure and resources, and a number of other factors. However, one tool that has the potential to facilitate increased resilience across a range of contexts is digital technology.
Despite decades of investments to improve food security for the world’s poorest people, hunger and malnutrition are still problems for many. Indeed, a daunting food security crisis currently puts more than 20 million people at risk of starvation in just four countries: Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. In sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 42 million children under the age of 5 will be malnourished by 2050, and 10 million additional children will be malnourished if climate change impacts continue unabated.
This crisis calls for improvements in identifying, understanding and addressing the interlinked factors that result in broadscale food security crises. The cycle of resource degradation caused by climate change that leads to food insecurity, starvation and ongoing conflicts raises the question of whether climate change itself is a “threat multiplier” that increases the potential for conflict. Evidence suggests that the interplay between these sectors is critical to the emergence or development of many humanitarian crises. However, the complexity of these relationships and the role of climate change as a threat multiplier are less understood.
The primary goal of corrections in the United States is keeping the community — everyone from offenders to those who work within prisons and jails — safe. Policies and strategies within the corrections community, however, increasingly emphasize cost containment and environmental sustainability. Addressing these two goals in tandem has proven to be a great opportunity for correctional leaders and their partners.
FHI 360’s Green Corrections project contributes to the goal of making the corrections system more environmentally sustainable by facilitating the sharing of effective practices and lessons learned.
A recent competition, the Green Corrections Challenge, highlighted exciting and innovative green practices in local, state and federal correctional facilities and reentry programs in the United States. The competition, part of the Green Corrections project, showed how dedicated corrections professionals are minimizing negative environmental impacts, saving taxpayer dollars and preparing offenders for green jobs.