The world is in the midst of a far-reaching crisis caused by the novel coronavirus. People’s lives have been disrupted, companies have to adjust to new workstyles, and governments have to act swiftly to enact new policies and rules. We at Future Earth have also had our work affected, with many of us working from home, and major meetings such as SRI2020 being postponed. However, we are ready and willing to advance our important work, which includes the interconnection between the environment and health, and linkages between our natural and social systems. Here below we summarize some of our major responses to COVID-19.
- Health Knowledge-Action Network* blog (21 February): This article lays out an overview of coronaviruses, and the reality in which human interference in the environment and large-scale movement of people into natural lands are related to the transmission of diseases like the coronavirus from animals to humans. The authors also discuss specific solutions that should be enacted by governments, organisations, and individuals. They ultimately call for a transformation of our societal structures to help prevent future contagious diseases.
- Sustainable Consumption and Production Knowledge Action Network** blog (First posted on 13 March): The outbreak of the novel coronavirus threatens our health and inevitably disrupts all aspects of our life and economies. The Sustainable Consumption and Production Knowledge Action Network (SSCP KAN) discusses in a blog how the changes brought about by the pandemic can provide leverage points for opening pathways to a sustainability transition, especially with respect to consumption and lifestyles in relatively affluent countries.
- Message from Amy Luers, Executive Director of Future Earth (25 March): The message from our executive director mentions some of the effects of COVID-19 on our activities, but more importantly, emphasizes how we are moving forward in these uncertain times. She highlights some of our recent activities by our Global Research Projects (GRPs) and Knowledge-Action Networks (KANs) and encourages readers to reach out to the secretariat for any emerging opportunities in our work.
- SSCP KAN Public Forum (26 March): Building on points considered in the SSCP KAN blog post, the SSCP KAN held a public online forum, where more than 300 participants discussed how this difficult situation caused by the COVID-19 outbreak could catalyze social changes and enable us to overcome customary views and patterns of activity for work, mobility, communication, production technologies, supply chains, notions of prosperity and more.
- Open Letter on COVID-19 Response (27 March): Many members of the Future Earth community joined 1,000 leaders and scientists to sign the Global Call to Action. This letter urges world leaders to make their economic recovery plans in response to the virus, transformative for people and nature.
* Health Knowledge-Action Network: A Future Earth Knowledge-Action network that addresses how global and regional environmental changes can affect population health and health systems. The members focus on effective and efficient solutions to maintain and improve planetary health and human well-being.
** Systems of Sustainable Consumption and Production Knowledge-Action Network: A Future Earth Knowledge-Action Network that addresses whole provisioning systems including consumption practices and production conditions. Addressing economic, political, social, and cultural aspects of SCP that impel consumerist lifestyles, the SSCP KAN aims to catalyze social changes towards sustainability.
Originally published 2 April 2020 by the Institute for Future Initiatives, the University of Tokyo.