Discussion forum: Reflections on a COVID-19 summer

In light of “no more normal”, what are your ideas about what we, as the BCCI Community of Practice could explore in the next several months?

By Vic Neufeld

Here we are in mid-summer, and I think we can all agree that this is been a most unusual summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its various impacts. Like many of you, I’ve been involved in discussions, and doing a lot of reading, about what a “post-COVID” world might look like. For some of you, this likely is a very personal question—having to do with the upcoming semester in your chosen university, or a job (or an application for a job), and so on.

I want to share an editorial I read recently, from the well-known international journal, the Lancet. Entitled No more normal , the editorial begins by commenting on two lessons for societies from the pandemic experience. The first is a reminder about role that key workers (including health care workers) play in keeping societies going. The second is the lesson that “society and its systems are much more fragile than many of us appreciated”.

The editorial then goes on to comment on the increasing attention to some kind of recovery, and (learning from the two lessons above), what form the recovery should take. Three priorities for our future are put forward: 

  • equity
  • resilience
  • sustainability

I want to suggest that these priorities in some ways resonate with who we are and could be in our “recovery” – as individuals and as a community—and beyond. I propose that we begin a dialogue about this around this question:

In the light of “no more normal”, what are your ideas about what we, as the BCCI Community of Practice could explore in the next several months—say to the end of 2020?

Please comment on this blog post and/or along your ideas to bcci.community@gmail.com over the next few weeks, before the end of August. Tasha Kara and I will collate your responses and summarize them in the August update, taking your ideas and guidance about actions to be considered.

4 thoughts on “Discussion forum: Reflections on a COVID-19 summer

  1. My biggest takeaway from the pandemic world for the post-pandemic world is sustainability. Although unfortunate for many sectors such as aviation, manufacturing factories, etc., it was amazing to see how much the pollution levels could be lowered with controlled operations of many industries responsible for environmental pollution.

    In the next several months leading to the end of 202, I think the BCCI Community of Practice could get involved in a more enhanced research detailing the change in environmental pollution before and during COVID-19, the major industries responsible for this change, and what measures we can take in the post-COVID world where we control the pollution levels without majorly harming the economic stance of these industries.

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  2. Thank you for this wonderful blog post and for the opportunity to reflect on what would be important for us as a Community of Practice to focus on in the next coming months. Although it is difficult to quantify or place in a certain order of importance Resilience, Equity, and Sustainability as priorities for the future that in my opinion are equally essential, I am leaning towards Resilience. Specifically, I am very interested in understanding how we can address the detrimental impacts that this pandemic is already having and will continue to pose on individual mental health and wellbeing. Coping with all the aspects related to this pandemic, such as working from home, changing our interactions with people, starting a new career from a space that used to be for personal purposes and now has become a professional setting (personal example), all the way to limiting contact in the community (i.e. grocery shopping) and completely altering behaviours related to travel (if adhering correctly to the recommendations from public health) – come with serious mental health implications in how we cope with stressful situations. I think a big focus needs to be placed on how we can support one another’s mental health in order to overcome at least the next year, to realistically speaking 1.5 years, and beyond. How do we build resilience on a personal level? How do we ensure the same level of support is provided for those who identify as being part of vulnerable populations whether in high or lower income countries? We cannot think about system-wide resilience without starting from the individual level, as humans push all other actions in society. Hence if as a whole, we are strong mentally/emotionally, our systems will also become resilient to withstand future pandemics or other unprecedented times that lie ahead (whether caused by impacts of climate change, natural disasters, etc.). Regardless of the course of the next few months and years, investing in building resilient people, supporting them to overcome crises, and giving them the space to heal will result in better outcomes for the future.

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  3. Despite the destruction that COVID-19 has brought, now is a critical moment to build resilience and challenge existing power dynamics and inequities. But what would this other possibility look like? How are we going to understand ourselves and our planet differently this time?

    What I would like to see in our commitment to the future is the capacity to look beyond ourselves and learn from other communities on how to build back better. To echo Raluca’s comment, we need to support one another now more than ever. More specifically, support different ideas and ways of knowing as a collective process rather than an individual one.

    COVID-19 does not discriminate, and nor should our recovery. Conversations about equity, resilience, and sustainability can only progress with global commitment and representation from all disciplines. This pandemic has certainly put public health at the forefront of the discussion but it has also illustrated that all sectors play an essential role in building resilient communities. It is the responsibility of all sectors to listen and learn from one another to address these complex issues and, perhaps more importantly, to innovate more equitable solutions and strategies responding to the most pressing health issues of our time.

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  4. On behalf of Vic Neufeld:

    Thanks to Krishna, Raluca, and Tasha for your insightful comments. We’ll keep the dialogue open during September, but for now here are two possible actions that occur to me.

    1. Write a short research note on: The impact of COVID on environmental pollution. This could include components such as the magnitude of the decrease; why did this occur; what could be done to maintain the decrease post-pandemic. Any volunteers to work on this?

    2. Conduct a dialogue on resilience (experienced so far during the pandemic)
    • What is your personal experience—what have you learned? What are your questions?
    • What are the opportunities (as a community of practice) to support each other?

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