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Co-creating a better world for all: Social impacts of COVID-19 require sustainable development


As countries and organizations plan for recovery and address the social impacts of COVID-19, sustainable development and interagency approaches play an important role in co-creating solutions that consider communities of all sizes, businesses of all types, and people across different lived experiences.


The way we communicate and connect is changing

Digital technologies have enabled many people to keep working and studying throughout the pandemic. Although there are many benefits of this, digital use also presents challenges when it becomes our main form of communication. People who work entirely from home may find it difficult to create healthy separation between their work and personal lives. Others might experience challenges with in-person communication after prolonged reliance on digital communications. Permitting ourselves to disconnect from our digital devices creates space for us to care for ourselves and interact with others. From spending time with people in our social bubbles to saying hello to someone while out for a walk or at the grocery store, these interactions remind us that digital solutions are only a part of the recovery puzzle, not a complete solution.


Did you know 1 in 3 children missed out on remote learning when COVID-19 shuttered schools globally?

The digital divide creates barriers to the learning and development of children and youth. According to UNICEF and UNESCO, nearly half the world’s students cannot return to their classrooms this fall. This poses significant inequalities for students that do not have access to digital devices and remote learning. It is also very challenging for students and family members that need in-classroom environments to support learning and family functioning. These challenges require interagency attention to ensure students with barriers to learning are not left behind.


COVID-19 and our whole health

COVID-19 presents a risk to our immediate health, as well as our long-term health. Hospitals have had to cancel various surgical procedures, and citizens have had to delay health checks. While healthcare systems address current backlogs, we all have an individual and collective responsibility to look out for the physical and mental health of ourselves and others.


Isolation impacts all of us in different ways. This includes, but is not limited, to:

  • people living with a mental illness

  • people who have not previously had mental health challenges

  • people who have been impacted by a significant change to their social life, family functioning, and/or employment

  • people who live alone

  • people who use substances

  • people with increased health risks to COVID-19

  • seniors with additional barriers such as transportation and mobility challenges, geographical distances, and digital literacy

  • victims of domestic violence

If you or someone you know is experiencing physical or mental illness, seek help today.


Working across boundaries to ensure nobody is left behind

According to Statistics Canada, the August 2020 unemployment rate of our working-age population in Canada was 10.2%. Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) supporting vital causes have needed to divert funds to crisis response efforts, while at the same time cancelling fundraising events or moving efforts online in alignment with physical distancing requirements. Small businesses continue to face significant hurdles. People living paycheque to paycheque, families relying on a daily wage, families living below the poverty line, recent migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people, and people experiencing homelessness are all presented with additional challenges globally.


As the world moves toward recovery, thoughtful solutions that consider the different realities of people, businesses, communities, and the natural environment are needed to support sustainable development. When governments, organizations, and individuals work together across boundaries, we have the opportunity to co-create a better world for all.

About C.O.D

Celebrate Our Differences is a social venture supporting the development of workplaces and communities to co-create places of belonging. Providing organizational culture and community development consulting services, we work alongside organizations to address complex challenges through co-creation approaches that enable people to participate more fully in the workplace and community.