As American novelist and activist Pearl Buck wrote in her novel The Good Earth, “the test of a civilization is the way it cares for its helpless members.” Variations of this quote have often been inaccurately attributed to figures like Gandhi, but regardless of the actual source of these words, their truth is undeniably clear: the way we treat the most vulnerable people in society is of critical importance. As the global community grapples with the outbreak of COVID-19, the importance of protecting our most vulnerable becomes even more clear.
I have been fortunate enough to work with the Joint SDG Fund, and other organizations across the United States and other countries, and see first hand their commitment to providing the resources and protection that people need now more than ever. Although now a lot of this work is focused on the current pandemic, it is not limited to it, and global efforts to help the most vulnerable will continue long after COVID-19 becomes a distant memory. In 2015, when the 2030 Agenda was formally adopted, the global community made a commitment to everyone to take concrete steps to make the world a better place for all of its inhabitants, and we intend to keep that commitment.
A lot of the efforts highlighted now as a part of the response to the pandemic – like providing access to health care, and expanding social safety nets – are part of the work the Joint SDG Fund was created to support and fund. The current situation changes priorities in some cases – prioritizing healthcare and economic stability over efforts to innovatively solve traffic problems, the climate crisis or respond to different natural disasters – but it is still a time of hope, strength, and solidarity. Today, and every day, we must, as the UN Secretary General said, “show solidarity with the most vulnerable.” We do not know when this crisis will end, some predictions indicate it could last longer than a year, but when it does I hope we continue to show solidarity with the most vulnerable people.
From this crisis, I, and many others, have learned the importance of collective action to protect the most vulnerable, and when this is all over, I hope we remember how important every single member of society is in combatting disasters, and how strong we are together. I hope that when we emerge from this crisis, the global community will join the Joint SDG Fund in continuing to emphasize the importance of protecting our most vulnerable citizens and working toward the sustainable development goals in order to create a better, stronger, and healthier world for everyone.
If you would like to help fight the Coronavirus, your donation to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund will support critical work to prevent, detect, and respond to the Coronavirus.