Struggles caused by COVID-19 pandemic can guide towards more equitable, sustainable society

Struggles caused by COVID-19 pandemic can guide towards more equitable, sustainable society

Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc.Apr 21 2021

Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä highlight how the struggles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic can guide us towards an equitable use of our shared environment and a transition towards sustainability.

COVID-19 crisis has emphasized how poorly prepared humanity is to cope with global disasters and to face the new ecological norm under climate change, degraded ecosystems, and biodiversity loss. The final consequences of COVID-19 crisis on sustainability are not yet known.

However, this crisis offers a unique opportunity to move towards a greener, more sustainable and equitable society to avoid the destruction of our planet and our own well-being.

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We must proactively adapt to the potentially harder times ahead of us aggravated by global environmental changes. "COVID-19 crisis" serves as a global-scale stress-test for our resilience towards an uncertain future, says Visiting Researcher Rémi Duflot from the Department of Biological and Environmental Science at the University of Jyväskylä.

Moving towards a sustainable future path

The actions and objectives for a sustainable transition are already defined by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the United Nation. Many alternatives are ready to be implemented through sectorial entry points and can mitigate the social and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now researchers argue that the implementation of a sustainable policy requires a change in societal priorities, shifting from the economic paradigm of growth (of GDP) to human well-being and a healthy environment. To quantify progress towards sustainable well-being, measures of success should account for the multiple dimensions of well-being using a collection of indicators such as Genuine Progress Index and the Sustainable Development Goals.

A sustainable transition, alike an adequate response to a pandemic, requires a cohesive and inclusive society where people adhere to collective actions. Justice in a broad sense should be seen as a precondition to create institutional trust and social security, and thus to encourage citizens' participation in collective projects for sustainability, explains Duflot.

The research emerged as a collaboration within the School of Resource Wisdom community JYU.Wisdom, and was published as a "Note and Comment" in Sustainability Science in April 2021.

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