27 Jul / The next normal UNESCO campaign

UNESCO campaign “the next normal”: how will COVID-19 change the world?


UNESCO’s ‘the next normal’ campaign questions our ideas about what is normal, suggesting that we have accepted the unacceptable for far too long. But which world will emerge from the COVID-19 crisis? Will it be an opportunity to reshape society and build a better future, or will it exacerbate existing injustices?


“Disasters and emergencies do not just throw light on the world as it is. They also rip open the fabric of normality. Through the hole that opens up, we glimpse possibilities of other worlds.” Peter C Baker, The Guardian


What’s ‘Normal’?


What is “normal”? The fact that air pollution kills more than eight million people annually?  That top influencers can make up to a million dollars for only one social media post? That one child in five is still out of school?


Pneumonia is a preventable disease which vaccine has been around for 43 years. Still, it continues to kill more children than any other infectious disease, one child every 39 seconds. Is that normal?


Every 24 hours, between 150 and 200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become extinct, a rate a thousand times higher than the natural. How can we get used to it?


A crisis far from normal


These are not normal times. Because of the severity of the pandemic, many of us have lived, and continue to live, with fear. Everyone can be affected, but even more so the most vulnerable people. For example, the elderly, the chronically ill, the homeless, and the people who use drugs.


Yet we’ve also seen some beautiful things…


In a thought-provoking 2-minute clip, ‘The Next Normal’ campaign reminds us that just because we have gradually become accustomed to a certain form of normality does not mean that we have to reproduce it in the “world after”.


As the clip shows, we’ve also witnessed beautiful things during this crisis. Last March, Monica Falocchi, head nurse of the intensive care unit at Brescia Civil Hospital, made the cover of The New York Times Magazine. Her face expresses the pain and fatigue of all the caregivers. But it is also a deserved tribute to those whose job is to save lives.


Monica Falocchi, head nurse at Brescia Civil Hospital makes the cover of the New York Times Magazine – Screenshot from #TheNextNormal campaign – View other photos by Andrea Frazzetta


For the first time in nearly two decades, March 2020 was the first March without a school shooting in the US.


The international health crisis has forced huge challenges upon us. We’ve invented new collaboration skills and new ways of relating to other people.. For example, researchers from all over the world have pooled their knowledge. As a result, they managed to decode the genome of the virus in just three days! This had never happened before.


During the pandemic, eleven warring countries declared ceasefires. In Africa, mobile phone companies provided free access to online educational resources so that everyone could learn.


This was not “normal” in the world before.



Inventing the next normal


What if each of us made an effort so that all these beautiful things should become normal? The UNESCO #TheNextNormal campaign raises this issue as a critical question to be addressed by all of us.


How can we act against social inequalities and injustices? Individually and collectively, what can we do against the mass extinction of species that is occurring?


We have accepted the unacceptable for far too long. Our previous reality can no longer be accepted as normal. Now is the time for change.


And changing is not just about politics. Everyone has a role to play. #TheNextNormal UNESCO campaign invites us to learn the lessons of recent months, by inventing “a world after” that is more respectful of nature, more just, and more peaceful.




Article courtesy of Dianova International.


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