Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF Executive Director
Digital Learning Could Be The Great Equaliser
In the face of the first truly global crisis in our lifetime, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to drive transformative change in education on a global scale, for every child.
Reaching every child and young person with quality digital learning could be the “great equalizer” that helps them build the foundational, digital, entrepreneurial and job-specific skills they need to leapfrog to a brighter future.
Through our Reimagine Education initiative, UNICEF aims to reach 500 million children and young people with digital learning in 2021, and every child and young person by 2030.
Even before COVID-19, the world was already grappling with a learning crisis that left half of all children in low- and middle-income countries unable to read and understand a simple story by the age of ten years.
The World Bank recently warned that could increase to more than six-in-ten children, due to the pandemic. The Bank also estimates US$10 trillion in lost earnings for the current cohort of young people, if learning loss is not addressed. Further, we found that two-thirds of the world’s school-age children do not have internet connections in their homes, limiting remote learning opportunities.
These enormous challenges have already sparked some inspiring and innovative solutions. That includes our collaboration with Microsoft on the Learning Passport — a flexible learning platform with both on and offline models that has already been scaled-up in Timor-Leste, Puntland, Somalia, Jordan, Ukraine and Bangladesh, and in the coming weeks will include Kosovo, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, Laos and Honduras. Private sector partners are rapidly joining our ambitious agenda, helping us to expand internet access to every school, provide high-quality digital content for the poorest and most marginalized children, and deliver digital learning in offline or low-connectivity settings.
COVID-19 may have disrupted schools, but it does not have to disrupt learning. Join us as we strive to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for every child, and achieve SDG 4.
Josh Ponte, Creative Director, African Conservation Development Group
We Need Climate Smart, Conservation-Led Programmes
Now, more than ever, industry needs to accurately account for natural landscapes and the ecosystems services they provide at no cost. For biodiversity-rich developing countries, the challenge is how to safeguard precious natural resources, and use them to improve prosperity for citizens.
The central African country of Gabon provides a perfect case-study. It is one fifth larger than Great Britain with just two million inhabitants. 87% of the territory is rainforest harbouring 8,000 species of plant, 300 mammals and 600 species of birds many of which exist nowhere else. It’s a refuge for biodiversity and a global climatic stabiliser. Actions which reduce the health of these rainforests have profound consequences; locally for people who rely upon them, regionally for the flora and fauna maintaining the ecosystem and globally in terms of mitigating rising planetary temperatures.
By developing climate-smart, conservation-led investment programmes with sound sustainable development principles we maintain the healthy function of our landscapes, reduce carbon emissions and create opportunities for local people: a truly integrated approach.
Tola St. Matthew-Daniel, Senior Vice President, freuds
We Cannot Rely On Changes At The Margins
The pandemic has exposed the stark fault lines of inequality in our society. While Covid-19 hasn’t caused health, racial and economic disparities, it has accelerated their compounded consequences across all these dimensions, both within and amongst countries.
While the crisis began with a global chorus that suggested ‘we’re all in this together’ the longer it continues the more it has reinforced the opposite conclusion.
For me, one of the scariest aspects has been the digital divide that has taken place, not only in the workplace, but more importantly, in educational systems and which is now leaving a generation of students behind.
The experiences in New York mirrored those around the word. Many schools were not prepared for a completely digital experience, their students didn’t even have laptops, and many lacked basic access to the internet at home. In many cases – often the case in low-income homes, multiple children in one household battled not only substandard bandwidths but their own siblings for use of a single device. This switch also assumed that everyone’s parents knew how to use computers and could help their kids through the experience. Cruelly, it barely considered students with special needs.
This connectivity chasm will mean societies are certain to uphold and, even more damning, reinforce the boundaries of race, class and opportunity for the next generation.
While remote learning will create opportunity for some and help erase the lingering stigma of distance education, it very clearly risks widening the achievement gap.
Inequalities imperil all of us. We cannot be rely on changes at the margins. As the charismatic US educator Steven Covey once explained: “You can’t change the fruit without changing the root.”
We know better. Let’s do better.
Jacquelline Fuller, President, Google.org
Preparing Women For A Job Market That Demands Digital Skills
Inequalities are exacerbated by a crisis, as women have discovered to their cost over the past year. Across all dimensions - health, education, the economy - 2020 has had an outsized and negative impact on women.
We see girls leaving school, with projections suggesting that 11m may not be enrolled by the end of the Covid crisis. In the workforce women are losing their jobs: research released in January 2020 by the National Women’s Law Center in the US shows that last December, women accounted for 100% of the net job loss in the US.
These figures demonstrate exactly why economic opportunity for women is a central objective for global development, for economic recovery and not simply an afterthought.
At Google and Google.org, we’re striving to improve the ways for women to benefit from technology-based employment. This includes helping women to prepare for a job market that increasingly demands digital skills. We do this through programmes such as “Women Will” which has trained over 36m women from 48 countries around the world on leadership; and in Google.org we support organisations like YWCA supporting their team to train 10,000+ women in the skills they need to transition to the digital economy.
In addition to supporting projects that serve women, we also need to support women leaders. Across all of our work at Google.org, we believe that the people closest to the problem or with the lived experience, are the best positioned to tackle it, and across all of our grant portfolios we look to ensure that there is diverse and representative leadership.
We all know that opportunities for women bring benefits for everyone. We can’t let progress backtrack and we can’t stay comfortable with today’s status quo. And we can’t afford to wait.
Anne Finucane, Vice Chairman, Bank of America and Chairman of the Board, Bank of America Europe
Science and Innovation Can Provide The Path To 2050
One third of all assets under management by institutional and finance professionals today is in the field of Environmental, Social and Governance, otherwise known as ESG. This represents a 42% jump in just two years, a very significant leap that will likely continue to accelerate over the coming years.
The European Union is already moving quickly towards passing a green deal that is expected to become law in another year. Essentially, it will result in companies signing up to be net zero by 2050 and to commit to being halfway there by 2030 or 2035.
Many firms now require a game plan to achieve that target - a process that will involve them first becoming carbon neutral and then net zero. The impact of this legislation means a manufacturing company will not only need to be net zero itself, but any vendor it works with will have to be net zero too.
This legislation will likely lead to a huge amount of activity in the demand for technology and science, whether hydrogen, nuclear power, or through battery technology. This in turn will create a major transition and a huge marketplace as well as offering a significant opportunity for investment.
Through our own operations, Bank of America is committed to improving the environment in how we approach our global business strategy, work with partners, make our operations more sustainable, support our employees, manage risk and govern our activities.
This includes working with His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, through his Sustainable Markets Initiative to accelerate the transition to a net-zero future. The bank has also committed an investment of more than $445 billion by 2030 to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable, low-carbon economy.
Sabrina Elba, UN Goodwill Ambassador for IFAD
Investing in Africa’s Female Farmers Is The Future
Smallholder farmers – many millions of whom are women – are the silent heroes of this world.
Smallholder farmers are responsible for producing a large portion of the food consumed in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. They also play a critical role in creating jobs and developing rural economies around the world. However, they are facing unprecedented challenges.
Hunger levels are rising, and because of the Covid-19 pandemic, poverty is expected to increase for the first time in more than two decades. Added to this are the challenges posed by climate change and the extra burdens women smallholders often face – fewer rights to the land they work, limited opportunities for education, and less access to the financing and inputs they need to farm successfully. Many smallholders struggle to feed themselves, let alone produce enough food to feed others and make a living.
Responding to this global emergency, in April 2020, the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) launched a new global coronavirus relief fund to help prevent the pandemic’s economic shocks from triggering a global hunger and food crisis.
Along with US$40 million in seed funding from IFAD, five countries have committed another $40 million. These funds are helping smallholder farmers to access seeds and other inputs to grow their crops, to keep their businesses open and maintain access to financial services and markets, even as their countries go into lockdown and movement is inevitably restricted.
Although there has been some progress in gender equality over the years, women aged 25-34 are still 25 per cent more likely than men to live in extreme poverty. There is now a real risk that economic hardship and hunger will set women and girls back a generation and kill more people than the coronavirus itself, particularly in rural areas where people are already poor and have no savings to fall back on.
Short-term aid reacting to crises is not enough. Only with a long-range view can we take the steps that prevent crises from happening and build the resilience to weather them. We require serious long-term government investment in sustainable agriculture. We need to empower small-scale farmers – particularly women and indigenous communities – to preserve biodiversity and farm in a way that works for them. IFAD is already on the ground in more than 100 countries working with these farmers, confirming what we already know: our food systems will need an overhaul if we are to solve global hunger and malnutrition.
This year, the UK and other governments have the opportunity to prevent a further hunger crisis by increasing their funding to sustainable agriculture through IFAD.
With $1.55 billion, IFAD can double its impact by 2030 and help more rural communities recover from the pandemic and rebuild their lives. The fate of millions of rural women and girls depends on government leaders stepping up and agreeing to invest more ambitiously. With proper funding, we can ensure that rural women will be able to access the training, technology, assets and finances they need to keep growing food and earning incomes despite future shocks. Investing in agriculture is central to supporting the economic empowerment of millions of rural women. We cannot allow the pandemic to set back women's rights and equality.
This will be the most important year yet for financing food security and agricultural development. If smallholder farmers fail, we all fail.
Tom Rivett-Carnac, Founding Partner of Global Optimism, Author and Podcaster and former Chief Political Strategist for the Paris Agreement
Halving Emissions By 2030
The SDGs as a unifying blueprint for a fairer, more resilient, regenerative future recognised the interdependence of nature and humanity in many ways, none more practically important than SDG 13, the intersection point with the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change.
Climate change is already the basis for enormous suffering and is also the solution framework for imagining a better future – much better than the past in improving quality of life for billions of people.
The good thing is that delivering SDG 13 is guided by science, which demands a clear and decisive pathway to halve emissions by 2030. Our abuse of nature’s abundance over the past century has resulted in a warming climate and so many other injustices. But we know what to do to tackle the climate crisis to develop solutions, with the tools and resources we have right now, to avert greater and more frequent shocks such as we are currently experiencing to global health and economic systems.
By addressing climate change with a stubbornly optimistic mindset, grounded in a vision of the future that is regenerative, more equal and fairer, we will find that we re-shape our world, building forward to create new jobs in cleaner industries, live in cities with air that is fresh and nature that is abundant and tackle many inequalities in the process.
We will find ourselves in a more inclusive society where citizens, companies, cities and countries are all aiming for the same goal and where our responsibility to future generations is met. SDG13 can be at the heart of meeting many of the other 17 SDGs. We must first recognise that the future will be shaped by who we choose to be right now. It is only possible to change the story of the world when we all play our part.
Ian Maskell, Vice President, Wall’s
Let's Build Back Happier!
The past year has seen a recalibration of what it means to be happy. Instead of valuing life through financial success and personal possessions alone, society now places a higher value on social connection and community togetherness as factors that are extremely important to our happiness.
People have built stronger relationships within their communities – supporting friends, neighbours and local front-line workers. 62% said that lockdown made them feel more part of their community and 58% found human connection to be what makes them truly happy (i).
Wall’s – serving 28 billion portions of “happiness” in communities across the world every year – is on a mission to make the world a happier, more inclusive place.
We believe governments throughout the world should take inspiration from New Zealand, Scotland and Iceland by implementing policies that prioritise happiness. Our own research, conducted shortly after the first national lockdown across 12 different countries, shows people now consider happiness to be the number one priority.
Globally, people are calling for governments to prioritise happiness over money with 63% wanting happiness to come before economic recovery (ii).
As such, Wall’s will be working throughout 2021 and beyond to bring academics, policy makers, businesses, communities and activists together to develop a blueprint for a future where happiness through community and connections is key and GDP is no longer the only main measure of development.
By doing this, celebrating community togetherness and social connections, we’ll be able to create a better world and live a happier future.
(i) Wall’s Manifesto for a Happier World, 2021
(ii) Wall’s Manifesto for a Happier World, 2021
Gary White & Matt Damon, Co-founders, Water.org
Water and Sanitation Are Inseparable From Personal and Economic Health
In 2020, the most severe pandemic in over a century put the global economy on life-support.
Frequent handwashing with soap is one of the first lines of defence in slowing the spread of infectious diseases, and Covid-19 reinforced the importance of our most basic essential: water.
And yet, safe water and sanitation are chronically, tragically underfunded. 3 billion people – 40% of the world’s population – lack access to basic hand-washing facilities in their homes.
Last year we also witnessed the devastating consequences of climate change as intense weather events and major fires threatened an already unstable balance between people, their health, their ecosystems, and economies. These detrimental changes painfully illustrated that those who contribute least to its causes – those living in poverty – are the very people who suffer the most.
We cannot separate water and sanitation from personal and economic health.
That’s why 2021 must be the year we address the unequal access of it as a strategic and necessary action, building global resilience to the impacts of infectious disease and climate change. This ensures that we maintain (or better yet improve) the balance of people and planet.
We can begin with prioritising environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in our philanthropic and impact investment decision-making process. This is true for companies, individuals, and investment managers.
Non-profit organisations such as Water.org work to create an equal playing field through access to safe water and sanitation. Investment managers can choose impact investment funds, like WaterEquity, to create positive social and environmental transformation while maintaining positive returns.
Doing so will build vital resilience, creating health, hope, and a bright future for billions.
Richard Curtis, Sustainable Development Goals Advocate and Co-founder of Project Everyone
We’re Not Powerless To Act Against Poverty. We’ve Done It Before.
For the last two decades, there has been an almost unstoppable momentum in the campaign against extreme poverty. In a collective drive, the world had been making a positive change, but which almost never made the headlines.
It’s a story of progress that extends back to the turn of the century when the United Nations set out the challenging target of reducing extreme poverty by half by 2015. That target, the first of the Millennium Development Goals, was reached a full five years ahead of schedule.
Today, in the face of the Covid pandemic, that track record of progress is now under threat. According to the
World Bank, up to 150 million people, 1.4% of the world’s population, could fall into extreme poverty over the coming year. Once again we’re witnessing the scourge of poverty rising across the world – often in different places than we expect, with greater levels of poverty in cities and middle-income countries than before.
But poverty Is not inevitable. We’re not powerless to act and, just as the world is fighting back against the virus, so we can do the same against poverty. We have done it before – including through the Make Poverty History campaign that I was involved in when the UK hosted the G8 in 2005. This year the UK is at the centre of history once more – hosting the Climate COP and the G7- and once again a big campaign is building.
We know the solutions, which were highlighted in a special film we made with the UN last year – Nations United. Amongst them are investment in public services, creating decent jobs, education for every child and resetting the economic system so it works for everyone.
Finishing the job and achieving Global Goal 1 will also mean keeping our promises – like the promise of 0.7 spending on international aid that this government made. It will mean thinking through the myriad of small decisions we as individuals make every day - putting pressure on businesses not to undermine steps to reduce poverty, taking care over where we buy our food and clothes and invest our pensions and money - and supporting organisations who fight poverty at home and abroad.
We have already seen what can be done. With clear goals poverty was more than halved. With Covid-19 risking us going backwards, we need to act again. It’s exactly why the Global Goals – with their detailed plan to fight poverty, injustice and climate change - are so important for keeping us focused on solutions to achieve a better world.
Dr. Arlo Brady, CEO freuds and The Brewery
This Lack Of Inclusivity Will Not Ebb Away
Democracy looks shockingly fragile in 2021. For all those who watched the raw moments that took place in the USA on January 6th, Western democratic institutions no longer seem invincible. This ‘disturbance of the peace’ in the heart of the developed world has challenged our notions of the progress that’s been made in “promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies.”
Until recently, most of us in the developed world would have looked further afield for the frontline on Goal 16.
How wrong we were. The storming of the Capitol has highlighted the repair, upkeep and renewal work that needs to be done in our own backyard.
This sorry episode may have damaged our faith in the systems that support us, but it pales in comparison to the reputational damage that has been (self) inflicted.
Today, the blame has been largely laid with the exiting President, now impeached for a second time, with clear lessons to be learned about authoritarianism, our understanding of the disenfranchised, mistrust and the vulnerabilities of our electoral system.
But, despite the judicial outcome, we should remember these structural threats to stability and a lack of inclusivity will not simply ebb away. They will remain, just out of sight and – thanks to big tech – at least temporarily, without a convenient outlet for their voices. But make no mistake, they will be back, nursing a greater sense of injustice than ever before.
If we don’t want a situation that will set us back a generation, we need to tackle the root causes of the instability. If we don’t do that, and ‘Lady liberty’s’ light will not shine as brightly, and it’s infinitely more difficult to imagine how we can play a justifiable role and “promote” just, peaceful and inclusive societies around the world.
Paul Bodnar, Managing Director – RMI
We Must Supercharge Efforts To Decarbonise Industry
For over a generation the world has addressed the puzzle of climate change as if it was
a jigsaw, but where individual nations had to bring their own pieces.
This has left countries to formulate their action plans in silos. The Paris Agreement was a monumental achievement that has realised significant change from within national borders, but, on its own, it doesn’t go far enough.
The challenge of reaching net-zero by 2050 requires a paradigm shift that complements the existing, country-centric strategies with net-zero pledges from industries that will enable even more ambitions national commitments and unlock the technology and energy transformation necessary to decarbonize the world’s largest emitters.
The maritime shipping sector provides a powerful example of how to approach this work. In 2018, the shipping industry and nations negotiated a target of reducing emissions by 50% by 2050 compared with 2008 levels under the auspices of the UN International Maritime Organization.
Industry leader, Maersk announced a bold net-zero emissions target to set an example for its competitors, before joining with other leading players to create the Getting to Zero Coalition with the objective of operating zero-emissions vessels along deep sea trade routes by 2030. Banks representing over $140 billion in shipping portfolios created the first sector-wide, self-governing climate-action agreement among financial institutions – the Poseidon Principles.
Although the work to drive this sector to net-zero is far from done, over 150 companies and 14 governments have joined the Getting to Zero Coalition to date. The momentum is palpable, and one of the coalition’s members describes it as “the shipping industry’s biggest transformation since sails.” RMI is continuing its long-standing support of this work as part of an alliance of climate leaders focused on supercharging efforts to decarbonize some of the world’s highest emitting industries.
It's vital that we bring together industry, finance, customers and suppliers to forge net-zero sector pathways and the actions required to achieve them. Only by activating these interlocking elements together can we achieve the speed and scale of low-carbon transformation our world so desperately needs.
Bear Grylls, Co-founder of BecomingX
A World Where Everyone Can Realise Their Potential
Potential. We all have it. It's the journey from good to great. From unsure to unstoppable.
It’s also a journey that not enough people are able to make. Life is changing so fast nowadays, and the pandemic has only accelerated the pace of change for society. Those that are often left furthest behind are those young people that need help the most.
It is my belief that few are leaving formal education fully equipped to live empowered and fulfilling lives, against a backdrop of rapid change and competition for jobs. Why is this? It’s clear from our research, that young people rarely understand what it takes to ‘succeed’ in life, and even when they have a good idea, many feel there is little they can practically do to change their futures. Even in the UK, where education is ‘free to all’, 44% of the population believe that where you end up in life is determined, not by your ambition, abilities or effort but by your background*. This is a problem that should trouble us all.
But imagine what the world would look like if everyone could realise their potential. What would it mean for our wellbeing? For our economies? For our politics? For poverty? For peace?
This is the audacious goal that we have committed to at BecomingX – the new education company I co-founded with former Accenture Strategy executive Paul Gurney. BecomingX is focused on creating a world where everyone can realise their potential, no matter what their starting point is. We work with the world’s most inspiring and iconic people to understand the personal attributes of high performers and are creating a freely available film library to help inspire people and demystify what it really takes to succeed.
Leveraging these insights and the latest research in human performance, neuroscience, and pedagogy, we have also created BecomingX Education, a digital solution to help schools and colleges deliver truly world-class personal development programmes.
What’s more, we’ve created a business model that allows us to deliver education programmes in lower-income countries and underserved communities through our charitable foundation, ensuring that everyone can develop and thrive.
As a society we have to do so much more to build the right foundations for young people. In the modern world, life is so often a battleground that many people feel ill equipped to tackle - and all the greatest lessons that I have learnt have come the hard way, through failure, through risk, through never giving up. BecomingX aims to demystify success and help people build the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and relationships we know they will need to succeed. After all, life isn’t just some giant competition, it’s a journey of discovery and is meant to be lived with hope, aspiration and wonder.
*UK Government, Social Mobility Commission 2020 “Social Mobility Barometer Public attitudes to social mobility in the UK, 2019-20”
Liz Fealy, EY Global People Advisory Solutions Leader, EY Global Workforce Advisory Leader
We Can Reimagine Work
In 2020, enabled by virtual technology, workforces around the world communicated, collaborated and built bonds that transcended physical separation and distance.
And in order to realign their priorities for a world in the grip of a pandemic, many organizations stepped up efforts to listen to their employees and synthesize the human capital themes that were emerging.
Research initially suggested that many workers felt comfortable working from home, but prolonged periods of disconnect from colleagues and the workplace began to demonstrate that humans were suffering the negative psychological effects of being separated from each other.
Moving forward, I believe the remedy will require organizations to reimagine the work experience and prioritize placing humans at the center of their strategies, to unleash human potential and create long-term value.
What will not change, however, is the importance of what has underpinned the global response to this period of rapid disruption: technology.
Organizations, including EY, are upskilling their leaders and teams with future skills (including technology) and deploying cutting-edge technology at speed to pivot and change how work gets done as well as keeping their people connected and engaged. For example, EY teams recently launched the Work Reimagined Leaders Forum (WRLF) – an interactive technology platform that is keeping teams connected by fostering new and existing relationships, internally and externally with clients.
As we look to 2021, the focus within organizations will shift from tackling the current crisis, to recovery and building a truly modern workplace. And the UN Sustainable Development Goal framework is a vital tool in channelling our collective efforts. As organizations work toward SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth – we must upskill our teams with future skills and use technology to augment our work and enable human connectivity, improve wellbeing and boost productivity to address the global challenges we face.
H.R.H Princess Eugenie, Co-founder, The Anti-Slavery Collective
Migrant Workers Are More Vulnerable Than Ever
“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”
- William Wilberforce.
There are an estimated 40.3 million people in modern slavery worldwide. That is more enslaved men, women, and children than at any other time in history. My best friend Jules and I made it our mission to end this global epidemic and The Anti-Slavery Collective was founded in 2017.
We want to end slavery and we do this by raising awareness, convening changemakers and highlighting the incredible work of the movement, all with the aim of achieving sustainable development goal 8.7 of eradicating slavery by 2030.
Working to achieve that goal this past year has been harder than ever before, with COVID-19 creating many challenges for victims and survivors of modern slavery, while amplifying the vulnerabilities of those most at-risk. Unemployment has left migrant workers more vulnerable to becoming slave labourers, school closures have left children more vulnerable to trafficking, and the pre-existing gender inequality issues that make women and girls vulnerable to slavery have only been exacerbated.
Last year Dr. James Cockayne, Director of the UN University Centre for Policy Research, told us that if we are to achieve goal 8.7, we need to be freeing 10,000 people from modern slavery every day for the next 10 years. This means that no matter the challenges the pandemic has presented, we must fight harder than ever before.
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
We Have A Global Solution, It Needs Funding
We begin 2021 facing a pandemic that continues to surge around the globe with new and more infectious variants.
Our world can only get ahead of this virus one way, in solidarity. Our shared goals must be clear. Our shared goals must be clear, prevent new infections, protect our systems, save lives and livelihoods and chart the way to recovery. 2021 brings a measure of hope. Covid-19 vaccines are being developed in record time, but supplys are scarce and distribution is uneven. We are seeing a massive difference in vaccines reaching high income countries quicky, while the world’s poorest have none at all.
Manufacturers in some countries are pursuing bilateral deals over a multilateral approach, even procuring beyond need. We must work together, Covid-19 does not respect national boundaries. So we must respect another truce. All countries need some doses now to vaccinate all health workers and frontline workers, instead of some countries getting them all. We must ensure that these vaccines are seen as a global public good. People’s vaccines, accessible and affordable to all. This is in every country’s self interest. It is also the fastest way to reopen the world economy and start a sustainable recovery.
We have a global solution to tackle the pandemic that has already achieved results. It desperately needs further funding to further its work. The Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator is the only global solution to tackle this pandemic. With equitable access, and its vaccine pillar, COVAX, can help us end the acute phase of this pandemic. It has honoured the two million people who have tied, the 90m more who have been infected and the many more millions of family members coping with loss.
It has resolved to end this pandemic through international coordination, solidarity and support. Now is the time to make sure that no country and no one is left behind.
Sara Vaughan, Global Chief Purpose & Sustainability Advisor, Marie Claire
Now is the time for fashion to start setting the right trends
Situated at the intersection of culture and self-expression, fashion not only reflects the values of our societies, but contributes to shaping them. Its undeniable soft power has allowed fashion to grow into one of the most influential industries in the world, worth an estimated $2.5 trillion only 12 months ago (McKinsey, 2020). Yes, fashion sets the trends – but not always the right ones.
Fashion evolves in a system rooted in deeply unsustainable models of consumption and production, at the expense of both people and planet. The problems it faces are complex and multi-layered and can only be unpicked with new ideas, new approaches and players willing to look beyond their own industry.
From biodiversity to decent work, from gender equality to innovation, fashion is one of the very few industries intersecting across all 17 Global Goals. However, it also happens to be one of the least active in adopting them. This needs to change. At Marie Claire, we want to be part of leading that change.
Fashion does have an important role to play in achieving the Goals by 2030, but it will also derive huge benefits from supporting them. The Goals are a framework, a roadmap to help us tackle poverty and injustice, and guide us through the challenges posed by the climate crisis. The Goals are the answer to the systemic challenges we, as an industry, are facing.
2020 might have put the world on pause for a while, but 2030 is around the corner and it is crucial for our industry to come together as we ask ourselves the difficult questions and start setting the trends the world needs.
Clare Brook, CEO, Blue Marine Foundation
Unseen And Unmonitored, Overfishing Has Gathered Pace
If there is one positive to take from the Covid crisis, it's the collective realisation that we are all in this together and that the human race is capable of concerted, collaborative action to save itself. The crisis has also revealed that our fate as a species is deeply entwined with the health of our planet - and nowhere is this interdependence more evident than in the oceans. Oceans provide a fifth of our food, absorb over a third of our CO2 and provide over half our oxygen. But it is the life in the ocean that enables it to perform these vital functions. Without a healthy ocean, all human life is compromised.
While the pandemic has brought people closer to nature, it has also allowed overfishing, arguably the biggest threat to the health of the ocean, to gather pace unabated.
For example, during 2020, observer programmes on fishing vessels were suspended. These observers act as independent eyes on large vessels, where they are responsible for reporting on the catch, tracking the ship and where each catch is landed. Without them we cannot track how much is being caught, with what bycatch, if there is shark finning and whether human rights are being abused.
The organisations responsible for managing the world's fisheries also went missing in action - cancelling the industry's major conferences - despite the perilous position of many fish stocks. In this age of Zoom, BLUE would urge environmental conferences to take place remotely to enable policy progress with a significantly lower carbon footprint.
At the start of this ‘decade of delivery’ for the planet, we urge that the agenda be more ambitious and that those ambitions be fulfilled, if we are to restore the ocean to health. For all our sakes.
In 2021, BLUE is calling for urgent intervention to protect the oceans, including
- Meaningful protection of at least30% of the oceans (We currently stand at 8%);
- The other 70% managed sustainably, and that means an end to all harmful fishing subsidies;
- A ban of highly damaging fishing gear, such as Fishing Aggregation Devices*;
- An end to dredging and trawling (which releases harmful PCBs and methane, a gas more than 80 times more damaging than CO2), particularly in marine protected areas
*2021 is seeing a ban by the UK (1 January) and the EU (July this year) of highly damaging electric pulse fishing, which is great progress.