• 2020•04•30     Bonn, Germany

    © Unsplash / Luke Jones

    COVID-19 is unfolding as a global disaster, demonstrating just how vulnerable humanity is. The pandemic also presents us at the UN with a new tremendous responsibility. The virus is a risk to people’s health in all parts of the world, paralyses economies and fundamentally changes all aspects of social life. While COVID-19 has a global reach and demonstrates powerfully how interconnected and interwoven the world is, it also showcases the disparities in vulnerability and ability to respond, both within countries and between countries.  

    How the UN responds to the pandemic will be crucial not only for the spread and management of COVID-19, but especially for the most vulnerable. While during the next weeks and months the focus needs to be on the immediate response – helping to reduce human losses and hardships – it is important to also maintain a long-term perspective. The goal must be to build back better to a more sustainable and just world for all, and to achieve the sustainable development goals, combatting climate change, to which the international community has committed itself.

    We at UNU-EHS stand ready to play our part in this global effort. We are actively contributing our many years of experience in the field of risk reduction as well as disaster preparedness and management to overall risk reduction efforts in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. Our experts have, for example, many years of experience in environmental migration research and are familiar with the particular vulnerabilities of people who live on the run, in overcrowded refugee camps or slums. They are familiar with the consequences of extreme weather events and protection against natural hazards, which are becoming more frequent and severe as a result of climate change. They intensively study how nature-based solutions may support transformations towards a more climate resilient future. And they develop and apply innovative technologies for disaster risk reduction, multi-hazard risk assessment, and technology-enhanced learning in order to support the education and capacity development of future generations and thought leaders worldwide.

    We know from our own research that major disasters can also be seen as an opportunity to refocus and redesign. We will advocate for global solidarity to tackle common threats, such as climate change, in a cooperative way. The post-COVID-19 era must lead us to a more sustainable world. We have the necessary knowledge to build back better and we need to mobilize global will to create a sustainable future for all.

    UNU-EHS Management Team