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What must be done to save the world told in 30 minutes

“This is a very important story. The important story. In the midst of covid-19 this is a historic opportunity to observe the state of the world, as it is today, and focus on solutions to solve our great problems.” Thus, Thandie Newton, actress and activist for women’s rights, introduces the documentary titled Urgent solutions for urgent times. The work was presented today in New York, in what is the most atypical General Assembly in the history of the organism, in this 2020 that promised to be humorous and full of celebrations, for the 75 years of the creation of the United Nations and for the first five years since the approval of the Sustainable Development Goals or Agenda2030.

The short, just over 30 minutes, produced by 72 Films and directed by Richard Curtis, encourages action and puts the spotlight on urgent and pending challenges. And as in the recurring family and home birthday videos, so used during the confinement itself, it reveals the deep desire that what comes a better time. “In the 75-year history of the United Nations, human beings have never had to face a series of challenges like the current ones,” Newton continues before listing the 27 million infections and the 900,000 deaths already from covid-19, between images of windows and rooftops full of locked up citizens, actively trying to organize themselves during confinement; beaches and empty streets all over the world … “The pandemic”, says the actress, “has x-rayed us, has shown the enormous, unsustainable inequality in which we live”.

“And it has shown how fragile the world is,” says António Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, in one of his many appearances. “If you look at people’s response to covid-19, people have changed dramatically his life; people have shown an enormous capacity to adapt to new circumstances and the ability to change the way they live, work, organize themselves ”, he says admiringly. “So, change is possible. The problem is political will,” he concludes.

“In the 75-year history of the United Nations, the human race has never had to face a series of challenges like the present ones”

Thus, with Beyoncé and Andrea Bocelli, on the soundtrack and activist Malala Yousafzai, singer Burna Boy and actor Forest Whitaker as guests and main narrators, this work traces the events of the last decades of the planet and points with the finger four great urgent and pending problems: climate change, poverty, social justice and gender inequality.

As images come and go of some of the natural catastrophes of the last decade – the California fires and Australia, the floods in Indonesia, the soaring temperatures in India or the locust infestations in the Horn of Africa – the actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador, Don Cheadle, wonders what has happened to climate change as a priority: “ We all attended excited a year ago, when young people from all over the world took to the streets to protest that we were not doing enough for the planet, that we did not treat it as the emergency that it is. It has been exactly one year since that. Have we done enough? Not”.

The problems are accumulating and have been pointed out for years: the extinction of the forests and of more than a million species of flora and fauna, the plastic in the seas, the degrees of more … “This cannot continue like this. You know it, I know it. And we also know what we have to do, ”adds Cheadle. The goal is clear: a 50% reduction in global emissions by 2030. And the proposed solutions go through a rapid transition to renewable energy leaving behind coal and fossil fuel subsidies. “Passion for protests can be translated into passion for changing the way everyone acts to create a better, safer, just and sustainable world. […] The clock is ticking ”, ditch.

Poverty is not natural. It is created by man. Michelle Yeoh, UN Goodwill Ambassador, believes so in the second chapter of the video dedicated to the underprivileged. “30 years ago, 1.9 billion people lived in extreme poverty,” Yeoh recalls, “In 2015 it fell to 734 million. That’s more than a billion people who made it out of poverty. But still 10% of humanity lives in an incredibly difficult situation ”.

The potential of children

Thirty years ago, Sugatra Mitra, another guest on the video, a renowned Indian professor of technological language at Newcastle University, placed computers in the shacks that adjoined his New Delhi offices. “The first day we saw an eight year old teaching a six year old to surf the Internet. How was it possible that she knew what she was doing? ”She wonders. Three months later the little ones who used it told him they wanted a faster processor and a better mouse. Surprised, he asked them how they knew those words. “You gave us a device that only speaks English so we had no choice but to learn,” they responded. “All children have enormous potential and can make a lot of progress, if we let them,” adds the teacher.

The claims of the Black Lives Matter occupy the third chapter: that of social justice. An emotional speech by George Floyd’s brother, brutally murdered at the hands of US police officers, once again brings to the table a scourge that transcends the entire globe: racism. “I could not take care of my brother the day he was murdered, but I can assure you that his death was not in vain,” he tells emotionally. The African-American singer Burna Boy closes the chapter with a rap in which he talks about his own experience of discrimination.

“We are not going to lose the battle of gender this century. The women are very strong and the voices will not be silenced “

25th anniversary of the Beijing declaration

87% of people who make decisions about peace are men, according to the UN. “Even knowing that when women are part of these negotiations, the results are more durable,” says Thandie Newton, a regular guest at UN anniversary events. The global wage gap of 16%, unpaid care, sexist violence, forced marriages … The list cited is long. “All of this has to change. And this is the battle that we are not going to lose this century. The women are very strong and their voices will not be silenced ”, ditch.

Feminism is part of the 75th anniversary of the UN’s priority agenda. This year, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, Born at the World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995, countless events have been proposed to take stock of the path traveled. To analyze and put on the table what remains to be done. And do it. Newton defines the final goal of the video well with a phrase: “Mandela already said it, everything always seems impossible until it is done.”


elpais.com