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Climate change, COVID19, and the importance of community building? By Hatim El Otmani

Climate change, COVID19, and the importance of community building?

By Hatim El Otmani



A lot has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the globe. Self-isolation and quarantines are the new social norms and the economy is taking a serious hit. World leaders are in a conundrum and debating how best to spend the money on the eradication of the virus. One thing is for sure, the aftershocks of the virus will be felt for months and potentially years to come, probing our strength on an international and a local scale. The pandemic has shown that is pertinent to build community resilience in order to encourage the need for support for each other during these testing times and beyond. In other words, this crisis presents humanity an opportunity to connect and synchronize and offer real-time solutions to the needs of the community, especially regarding threats that are still belittled such as Climate Change.


To combat the COVID-19 pandemic and the “looming existential threat of climate disruption”, the only credible response is “brave, visionary and collaborative leadership” - UN Secretary-General António Guterres, during an international discussion focused on climate change[1].

Community building is a practice aimed at the creation or upgrade of networks among people inside a local region or with similar interests. Various practices can be used for community building, going from typical gatherings like potlucks and little book clubs, to bigger scope endeavors, for example, health interventions and infrastructure development that include nearby members instead of outside contractual workers. Community is a primary human need.


Like COVID19, the government acting alone cannot fight against climate change, that is what has been proven so far. Local governments must urge and challenge citizens to showcase their abilities to enable their locale to adapt in these testing times. To combat climate change, the citizens need to discover approaches to support each other anyway conceivable.


Resilience is the capacity of a framework; like a family, a nation, or Earth's biosphere— to adapt to momentary interruptions and adjust to long haul changes without losing its basic character. A crisis is an unsteady situation where definitive change is both important and unavoidable. We rely upon the versatility of community building that helps us prosper; if these frameworks flounder, we endure.


Right now, it is an ideal opportunity to ask for and challenge citizens to make sense of what they can do to support their communities, regardless of whether that help is medical, money related, or social. Individuals must comprehend their duty to help their locale in this troublesome time. Research shows that during an emergency, individuals on their own start to connect, help other people, and build community. But isn’t climate change an emergency as well? Should we wait until climate change hits hard than it already does, so to make actions? Why communities feel the threat of COVID19 as real, while keep ignoring the long-term effects of climate change has on our ecosystem?


Neighborhoods should share these thoughts (and others' ideas) on their local government site, or any other online networking outlets to produce engagement and dialogue. As have been done for COVID19, where governments ought to request that individuals make penances where conceivable, to help other people, and to show proactive kindness. Climate change, on the other hand, ought to encourage individuals to utilize their qualities and imagination to come up with innovative solutions and green behavior for the sake of the planets by making compromises, and for the governments to turn into a green economy and be more responsible for their actions towards the climate.


Self-organizing community resilience and the power of grassroots social communities is ending up being vital in helping communities explore climate change and its resulting social and financial effects in the long run.

What COVID19 proved to humanity, is that when there is a will, there is a way. The way individuals rally in light of calamities is a key factor in a community's capacity to recoup. Building and involving both societies and businesses may be a step forward in advancing the sustainability agenda. When a strong understanding of the problems, opportunities resulting from climate change and comprehensive communication plans are clear, the involvement of communities will be even greater and important.

[1] https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1062752

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About the Author

Hatim El Otmani has a master’s degree in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development from the Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco. He is passionate about sustainable development, youth, and Agenda 2063.


He is currently working as project manager for the National Erasmus+ Offices in Morocco and remains strongly involved in community life and civil society programs as president and founder of Atlas For Development. in 2018 he won the UN SDG Action CAMPAIGN Award in the mobilization category. Hatim El Otmani is an AYCH Ambassador (Twitter: @hatimelotmani).


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Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth supports all young people and their diversity in exercising their right to freedom of expression. Reach Not Preach platform serves as a safe space for all young people to share their take on the topic of climate change. The views expressed in the Reach Not Preach platform are those of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the United Nations Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth and the United Nations.