This month we were delighted to be invited to participate in the Oxford Forum for International Development. The discussion topics featured vital issues and trends including The Role of Sustainable Finance, COVID-19 and Climate Change and Opportunities and Threats for International Development. Our Director for Europe, Thibaut Mills, sat on the panel for Career Guidance in International Development. Here are our key takeaways from the event:
- As a species, we have a limited capacity to worry. This means we tend to focus on pressing issues that are happening in the now; in today’s world, this is the Covid-19 pandemic. Climate change is seen as further away and therefore not as urgent a concern, which is not the case and arguably damaging for progress in this area.
- However, the pandemic has seen a shift in our behaviour and led to increased feelings of togetherness against a common threat. We were also able to see firsthand the effects of slowing down on the environment with the reduction of pollution, and we came to appreciate nature more than ever. This could push climate change higher in the agenda, especially considering that governments have now observed the effect of public engagement and collective action.
- We need to think long and hard about how we can implement scalable solutions and integrate green finance with cuts to aid and funding. Covid-19 has had monumental impact on global economies, which will no doubt affect development agencies and their ability to carry out their programmes.
- The pandemic has highlighted the importance of interconnectivity. The question of how to connect those in rural, unconnected areas. Satellites will be crucial in this response as many areas are lacking the infrastructure, but once connected, technology will provide small communities by connecting individuals to identity, providing access to loans and wider markets, and improve education.
- The prospects for the world’s poorest have gotten worse. The World Food Programme estimates that those at risk of food shortages has grown from 70 million to 200 million, providing an additional layer of threat on top of existing poverty. This inequality gap will prove to be a huge issue, and we need to persuade policy makers that we can’t go back to how things were before. It’s dangerous to think we can create a new world out of Covid-19, but if we don’t use it as a platform then we are not doing justice to the moment or ourselves. What are the moments of opportunity?
Huge thanks to the panelists at the event, Brianna Craft, George Marshall, Habiba Ali, Sam Bickersteth, Thibaut Mills, Amir Lebdiou and James Arroyo.