Chairman’s Blog, September/October 2020

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Who Knew Democracy Could Be So Exhausting?

2020 has been a year like no other – at least in my lifetime.  Between the isolation, the economic peril, a country divided, and a painfully contentious U.S. election, what can we anticipate in 2021?  I was having a difficult time writing this issue’s blog and couldn’t figure out why – until Joe Biden was declared the winner in the U.S. Presidential election.  It was a liberating moment, and a moment when I realized just how exhausting this election cycle has been.  I know not everyone favors this result, and my apologies to our international audience who bear witness to America’s political and social struggles from afar.  But that brings me back to the question of whether we can anticipate a brighter 2021…

The pandemic continues to overshadow everyone’s lives and livelihood around the globe.  In the U.S. we can anticipate a more rational, science-led approach to managing the virus with the new year.  We also appear to be on the verge of having a viable vaccine, but its global delivery to billions of people will take time.  While we may realize a decline in infection and death rates, it seems likely we will remain in the pandemic’s grip through 2021.  But we will emerge from this misery at some point.

Does that mean everything else remains on an indefinite hold?  Not necessarily.  Following America’s disgraceful withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, President-Elect Biden has indicated the country will rejoin the climate accord and that America will resume a science and fact-based leading role in addressing the climate crisis. Some may be tempted to think this was merely a delay in our efforts, but it was a delay we cannot afford.

The planet continues to face numerous social, economic, health, inequality, sustainability, and climate challenges — the scale of which are frankly overwhelming.  How do we address them all, and how do we know if we’re making any progress?  To answer these questions I will point to the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  The goals are a call for action by all countries – poor, rich and middle-income – to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.

No individual, or organization, can be expected to simultaneously address all 17 goals.  However, you can pick something you are passionate about and endeavor to make a difference.  Big or small doesn’t matter. What matters is that we all are making a difference.  Personally, I strive to practice the following;  

Start Where You Are,
Use What You Have,
Do What You Can.

As a reminder from past newsletters, IFMA has amassed a collection of COVID-related materials in their Coronavirus Preparedness Resource Center.  The IFMA Foundation released an authoritative Pandemic Manual.  And Lear Corporation produced a Safe Work Playbook: 2nd Edition.  All are freely available for download.

As always, we hope you find the newsletter enlightening…
Dean Stanberry