Is it possible to change the world? Can we make the world a better place for all? The answer is YES. Claudia Romo Edelman and Edie Lush share the inspiring stories of people working to create a more sustainable world while sharing simple ways for you to start taking action today.
Tsunami of Crises
The world really is too much with us. After years of peace, prosperity and progress toward the Global Goals, challenges and setbacks are following one after another now. Mark Malloch Brown, one of the world’s experts on development, calls it a Tsunami of Crises. Covid-19 set this wave of trouble in motion. But now as the World Health Organization sees the end of the pandemic in sight, economic disruptions are deepening and inflation is rampant.We visit with an aide worker in Pakistan, Samya K. Paracha, who reports that the price has doubled for a package of basic food and fuel for families dislocated by the historic flooding.Malloch Brown notes that the rich world’s ability to help is deeply hindered by what he describes as a crisis of democracy that has distracted many developed countries. “Our global house is on fire but they’ve not heard the alarm because its not ringing in the north, “ Brown said. “There just isn’t the bandwidth to understand that this is part of a wider breakdown."Co-hosts Claudia Romo Edelman and Lush end the episode on an upbeat note with a look at the decision by Patagonia’s owner to dedicate all the company’s future profits to protecting the planet.
The world is already a better place
Feeling distraught about the state of the world? This episode is for you. It turns out your pessimism is not evenly shared. Younger people, particularly younger people in the developing world, have a bright view of the future and expect their lives to be better than their parents.
“This is the optimism of the tech generation that can see a way forward,” an expert on generational change, Dr. Eliza Filby explained. “They have a sense of what’s possible because they have access to information.”
Which also means their hopefulness is built on a clear-eyed view, says co-host Edie Lush. “It’s not all rainbows and chocolate chip cookies,” she observed. “They do also see the challenges.” But they believe they have access to the education, skills and support to tackle those challenges, from climate to mental health to healthy food. "I think technology helps us learn alot more effeciently and faster," said Eden van Wyngaardt, a student in South Africa.
While many people in the developed world feel their expectations thwarted and worry that young people won’t do as well as their parents, in the developing world there is a strong sense of possibility and agency.
“The world that we would want to have depends on each and everyone’s personal actions,” said Ibrahim Kondeh, whose story of survival as a refugee from west Africa was featured on earlier episodes of Global GoalsCast.
Eden and Ibrahim were two of the young people interviewed for this episode. We asked them several of the questions from a UNICEF survey of 21,000 people, young and older, all around the world. This intergenerational survey identified the optimism of the young. “Young people are 50% more likely than older generations to believe the world is becoming a better place,” reported Unicef, a Global GoalsCast partner.
This episode was sponsored by Mastercard and features Payal Dalal of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. Thanks to our partners at One Young World and iamthecode.org for introductions to some of the young people we interviewed.
The Virus is Winning
As we enter year three of the pandemic, the virus is winning. That sober assessment comes from a Special Envoy of the World Health Organization, Dr. David Nabarro. “Its winning because we have not presented a united front against it,” Nabarro explains. “and that can only be possible if world leaders work properly together.”
Global GoalsCast sits in on one of Nabarro’s Covid-19 briefings with public health workers from around the world. “Unless we do this together this virus is going to beat us,” Nabarro warned, saying he and others were planning to focus next year on lobbying governments to improve cooperation against this pandemic, not just future ones.
Vaccines need to be more equitably distributed, Nabarro said, yet at the same time the world needs to recognize that vaccines save lives but do not end transmission of the virus, especially with the more transmissible Delta and Omicron variants. Stopping them requires better adherence to non pharmaceutical measures like masking and social distancing. “There is no excuse for not wearing face masks,” Nabarro said.
“We cannot fight the virus if we are fighting each other,” said Co-Host Edie Lush. “Amen,” replied Co-Host Claudia Romo Edelman.
This episode of Global GoalsCast is brought to you by Universal Production Music, one of the world’s leading production music companies and features an interview with Jane Carter, Managing Director, Universal Production Music UK & VP Global Repertoire.
The Covid Gamble that came up short
The rich world placed a big bet on vaccines. But the flaw in that gamble became clear as a new variant spreads. The vaccine was never enough to stop the pandemic, Edie Lush points out in this episode, even if the world had enough vaccine. Most of the world did not have enough vaccine and the new variant, Omicron, mutated and began to spread. Wealthy countries, which had kept most of the vaccine for themselves, are now trying to block this variant by blocking travel from countries who first identified it, Botswana, South Africa and neighboring countries in southern Africa. “People are truly livid,” Professor Magen Mhaka Mutepfa of the University of Botswana reports. Africans feel they are being ostracized by the rich world for doing the right thing: reporting the new variant the moment they identified it. Jane Badham, a health consultant, offers a heart rending report of sorrow from Johannesburg.
“African governments and people will need all the solidarity of everybody,” says Dr. David Nabarro, special envoy of the World Health Organization, “The last thing we want is people saying, ‘oh, we'll cancel flights.’ What's it do? What does it do?... I am so fixated on the importance of solidarity and so fixated on the unfairness of single-handed, high-handed responses. And particularly high handed responses from rich countries who've been hoovering up the vaccine and who've been making it difficult for poor countries to cope. No, we actually need to be able to count on each other in dealing with this pandemic. It’s got months, and years to run. So let's just be civil to each other.”
Travel lockdowns may buy some time. But the crucial defenses are, as they have been from the beginning, masks, distancing, testing and isolating of those potentially infected. Peter Hebard, a systems engineer, offers advice on selecting effective masks. You can also learn more from the WHO here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks
Edie Lush says empathy is crucial to an effective and appropriate global response. “We have to hold the consequences of what we do in mind,” she said, urging the developed world to increase vaccine and medical supplies to southern Africa as well as economic aid to ease the impact of travel bans.
The Climate Summit Was Better Than You Think
Everyone seemed disappointed with the Glasgow climate summit. But maybe it was not as bad as it looked? That is the provocative insight of Isabel Hilton, an expert on both climate action and on one of the pivotal countries, China. Yes, it was “unhelpful,” as she put it, that India, with China’s backing, changed the wording of the final communique to promise a “phase down” rather than a “phase out” of coal. But this language may have reflected the need to manage domestic politics while actually making progress.
“I don't think coal is safe at all after Glasgow,” Hilton told co-host Edie Lush.
More generally, Edie and co-host Claudia Romo Edelman explore a fascinating reversal. Where in the past political leaders overpromised and under delivered on climate action, Glasgow may mark a moment when what is actually happening exceeds what politicians feel able to talk about as they worry about nationalist and anti-climate forces.
Not everyone, of course, shares this hopeful outlook. Edie describes conversations she had with several experts who expand on the widely held view that action on climate simply is moving too slowly to cap rising temperatures at 1.5 centigrade.
The mayor of Dhaka North, Atiqul Islam, described how 1500 climate migrants were arriving in Dhaka every day as sea level rises in Bangladesh. Walter Roban, deputy premier and Home Minister of Bermuda, explained his vision to create a blue economy in the island nation and why help would be needed from the rich world.
Anne Cairns, from our sponsor Mastercard, and Jude Kelly, from the Women of the World Foundation, describe the importance of gender equity in solving the climate emergency. “Climate change is a man-made problem and needs a female solution,” Kelly says.
The World Health Organization’s emergency committee on Covid-19 says that “analysis of the present situation and forecasting models indicate that the pandemic is far from finished.” To curtail it, a “coordinated international response” is needed, reports Co-host Claudia Romo Edelman.
“Where have I heard that before?” replied co-host Edie Lush. A coordinated response is exactly what the world has not had. Edie and Claudia explore the chaotic response with Dr. David Nabarro and other health experts at his regular briefing.
Rebecca Kanter, a nutrition expert based in Chile, described how travel had become a crazy patch work of rules that could only be met by taking extra doses of vaccine.
“I have a PhD and I can't even figure out now what the new travel restrictions are,” she said.
“I have friends who say, ‘I don't want to get 5 vaccines.’ But if the only way they can move around is to get five vaccines they're in a weird ethical dilemma.”
John Atkinson, an expert on how systems work, and why sometimes they don’t, said: “systems like this are almost inevitably not designed to be that way. They're the unintended consequences of really caring often and smart people trying to do the right thing. Each time layer upon layer upon layer. And the whole thing ends up in a complete mess. We have to surface these contradictions and make them visible. So people just see how crazy it is.”
David Nabarro, special envoy on Covid-19, said the tangled rules disadvantaged the poor and helped those who knew how to play the system. He also described how vaccination distribution remained wildly inequitable. Rich countries should pay for vaccine supply to go directly from manufacturers to COVAX, the global system for distributing vaccine, rather than donating surplus supplies they have been holding. These surpluses are often near their expiry date, he said, and giving them away was like donating stale bread to the hungry.
Loved it so much it inspired my thesis!
I was absolutely inspired by this podcast, so much so that I’ve decided to write my thesis on the advantages and disadvantages of providing technology to ultra-rural populations. I’m actually excited to work on this project and don’t dread the long hours of research, study and writing that are ahead of me!
Listen to this! Very diverse topics and the guests have genuinely great insight. The host is killin’ it!
Into the Ice
Talk about setting the visuals right off the bat. The sound and atmosphere mesh well with strong narration. It takes quite an effort to capture the dangers and risks and emotion of arctic waters, but Global GoalsCast does an amazing job of pulling you off the comfort of your couch and into the real and changing world