- Dr Alessandro Demaio - Humanity is currently at a crossroads. We are at a moment in time where future generations will likely look back and either judge us for delay, or recognise the courage in our conviction.
Our three greatest global challenges today are problems we created ourselves. The very success we associate with the technological, social and economic progress made over the last few centuries now threatens our health and the planet we inhabit.
The first great challenge is, of course, climate change. As the world passes the critical 400PPM concentration of atmospheric carbon, this year is once again on track to be the hottest on record. Unmitigated, rising sea levels will mean more conflict, displaced populations and more severe natural disasters. Serious threats which overwhelmingly and disproportionately affect the world’s poorest, and those communities least prepared or able to cope.
The second is Non-Communicable Diseases: heart disease, diabetes, cancers, mental illness and respiratory disease. These diseases share common causes and despite, therefore, being collectively preventable, together they constitute some 68% of all global deaths. These are not diseases of rich, lazy, old, white men. These are diseases that cause, deepen and entrench poverty; with the world’s poorest populations and the poorest in our community bearing the brunt of the NCD morbidity and mortality.
And the third is the disintegration of social contract: the trust and connection between us in society. The very ‘glue’ we need to overcome these great, collective challenges. Because it is only through truly caring for one another that we will act on threats that face a future generation, which will bring suffering to families we have never met, or that cause a widening of social inequality and the economic marginalisation of foreign populations.
The good news is that just as we are the cause of these challenges, we, too, can be their solution. The question must not be if we can or will make tough decisions for a better 2025, but how - and when.