Elliott Harris, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, joined Upper School students in Ms. Everett’s Economics and Politics class via Zoom to discuss complex global issues, namely the intersection of climate change and sustainable economic growth and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Harris outlined the different organizations and programs that carry out the U.N.’s mission of maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, and promoting social progress, better living standards, and human rights. He underscored the importance of collaboration for the greater benefit of people around the world, and highlighted the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has shown and intensified inequality. He described the different efforts around the globe to respond to the pandemic and clarified that recovery will be a longer, harder road for countries at an economic disadvantage. “This is a crisis that shows us how much we depend on each other … as long as there is any place that is still vulnerable, we’re all still vulnerable, ” explained Mr. Harris. He went on to share that we must think of global problems as problems we all share and that their solutions require collective action, which is the U.N.’s approach through programs like the UNSDGs, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
He closed his remarks with the observation that the COVID-19 crisis has shown that when under pressure, nations can achieve remarkable goals, and he stressed that nations must collaborate under a new social contract to ensure that all people around the world can have their human rights safeguarded and experience a healthy and safe standard of living. It was thought-provoking talk that encouraged students to think about the ways they can be agents of global change and advocates for the greater good. Thank you, Mr. Harris!
“The need for collective action that Mr. Harris spoke of challenges our students to broaden their perspectives. He explained just how the economy and the environment continuously interconnect with political and social issues, and how each of us, working together can become a part of the solution to these problems that are both local and global.” — Daniel Murray, Coordinator of Global Studies