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.
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.
Getting the Global Goals Back on Track
In this episode, taped live at the end of the United Nation’s General Assembly meeting, three experts face the challenge of making up ground lost to the pandemic. Measures of wealth, health, education and equity have all been set back. “The world has a lot of work to do,” said co-host Edie Lush.
“The pandemic has really set back the cause of human progress in terms of all the metrics around health, and inclusion and gender violence etc. etc. around the world,” reports Gillian Tett, co-founder of Moral Money at the Financial Times. “The reality is that grappling with these challenges and trying to uphold the SDGs now is harder than it was say two years ago in terms of where we are starting.”
Co-host Claudia Romo Edelman shares data from the Gates Foundation Goal Keepers report that shows the start of recovery on everything from vaccination rates to total numbers of people caught in extreme poverty.
Ivan Weissman, journalist and entrepreneur in South America, said that the pandemic crisis was accelerating the empowerment of women and thus economic recovery from the downturn. He cited, for example, the decision by Argentina to credit the domestic work women do at home when setting their pensions.
Anthony Kefalas, Vice chair of the Democracy and Culture Foundation, offered a simple summary of the current challenge: “At the bottom of everything it is the question of inequality.”
Rising inequality, compounded by the pandemic, is undermining support for democratic government. “The main problem is to reduce inequality. The corollary to this is that if you don’t reduce inequality then you will not be able to operate in a system that you could call liberal capitalism. You can easily go into a system you where you have authoritarian capitalism.”
Kefalas, author of the new Athens Charter for Business, said that the end goal of all corporate responsibility efforts must be to reduce inequality.
The Good News about the Bad News about the Global Goals
The pandemic and economic collapse dealt a severe blow to the progress that was being made toward eradicating extreme poverty, improving health and education, and reducing hunger and inequity. Those are the Sustainable Development Goals, aka the Global Goals, the World’s ‘to-do list’ for a better, fairer world by 2030.
“A lot of of the people who were in precarious situations ended up falling deeper into poverty,” explained one of the leading experts on the goals, Vishal Gujadhur, an economist at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “And that’s something that’s really disappointing and that’s really a setback to the SDGs.”
But here is the good news. Or at least what co host Edie Lush calls “the better news.”
“Due to really strong action from individuals from governments, from communities we’ve averted the worst-case scenario,” Gujadhur reports, based on the Gates foundations latest Goalkeepers report on the SDGs.
The “apocalyptic” numbers being reported at this time last year are already beginning to turn around, Gujadhur said. The recovery is uneven. The poor have suffered the worst and are recovering more slowly, both between countries and within countries.
The world needs to redouble efforts to get back on track toward the global goals. Every effort counts and local, small-scale efforts can add up to big change. We visit a hotel in Rwanda, empty during lockdowns, that stepped up by using its kitchen and staff to deliver meals to hungry kids at the local primary school. “They were happy,” one of the hotel trainees, Jesca Rusaro, said of the school children. “And that makes me happy, too.”
Edie and Co-host Claudia Romo Edelman urge every listener to find ways to help their communities. That can include supporting the food program at the Mirama primary school in Rwanda through the Community Conservation Fund/Africa. They promised to include the link in these show notes and here it is: https://www.ccfa.africa/support/#get
Vishal Gujadhur is an economist and deputy director of policy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He leads a group that addresses how countries raise, spend, and allocate resources—and how they deal with debt, national planning and budgeting, and digital public finance.
Ian Williams is General Manager of the Mantis EPIC Hotel and Suites in Rwanda’s Nyagatare District, an eco-hotel near the northern entrance of Akagera National Park. When lockdowns cut off most travel, Williams worked with members of his staff to use the hotel’s kitchen and resources to help feed kids at the local primary school.
Jesca Rusaro is a trainee in food and beverage at the Mantis EPIC Hotel and Suites, Nyagatare District, Rwanda.
Nyesiga Charles Kabujangari is a receptionist at the Mantis EPIC Hotel and Suites, Nyagatare District, Rwanda.
This episode of Global GoalsCast is brought to you by The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Leaders in Innovation Fellowships, supporting innovators developing creative solutions to further the Global Goals. In this episode we heard Dr. Nusrat Sanghamitra on the impact her innovation is having in the global fight against cancer.
In case you were looking for the link to help the school food program here at the end of the show notes, where Claudia kept saying it would be, here it is. Again: https://www.ccfa.africa/support/#get
Season 6 trailer
Season 6 trailer
Now, The Climate Comes for Us
Do you think Climate Change is something that will happen in the future? Or something that will happen somewhere else? Well, as Co-hosts Claudia Romo Edelman and Edie Lush, say: think again. The climate is warming and one of the predicted effects, extreme weather, is happening faster and more severely than climate scientists had forecast. This has produced record heat in western Canada and the United States and unprecedented rain and flooding in China and Europe.
Global GoalsCast visits Mayschoß, one of the German towns ruined by flooding and hears about the physical destruction and the jarring realizations brought on by the flooding.
“It has shown as a community and I think also as a country that we are really vulnerable,” says Anja Menzel, a political science professor whose street was turned into a raging river. “That is something we did not experience before. Because, oh, its those third world countries that are affected by climate change. It isn’t us. we are well equipped.”
This has increased the urgency for both mitigation, such as the European Unions proposal to reduce carbon emissions, and measures to adapt to handle extreme weather events that can no longer be averted. Will the shock of this year of extreme weather be enough to motivate these needed changes?
Dr. Anja Bierwirth, Head of Research Unit Urban Transitions, at Wuppertal Institute, an international think tank for sustainability research focused on impact and practical application.
Dr. Anja Menzel, Research fellow at the Chair for International Politics, FernUniversität in Hagen
David Ryfisch, team lead for international climate policy at Germanwatch, where he manages the portfolio on sustainable and climate finance.
Harvey Scherer, event organizer & safety expert who is part of the rescue of Mayschoß, one of the German villages destroyed by the recent floods.
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