27 March 2020
Dear Friends of TNI,
As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds across the world, we hope this finds you safe and well.
Based here in Europe, able to self-isolate at home, and supported by a public system (however battered after years of privatization, deregulation and austerity), my sense of privilege is overwhelming. Back in my home country, South Africa, where a fifth of people live with another debilitating virus – HIV, most people have never known functioning public services, and few can (afford to) self-isolate, I fear the coming pandemic will be devastating. The same is true of many places in the world, particularly in the South.
At TNI, we are acutely aware of how this crisis amplifies the inequalities and injustices of our socio-economic systems, and how these threaten the public interest under conditions of a pandemic. Indeed, this crisis vindicates decades of work arguing for robust and democratically owned and controlled public services.
We have been warned to expect more such viral epidemics in the future. This has much to do with factory farming of animals, as well the expansion of agroindustry into the last remaining wildlife habitats. It highlights yet another reason (environmental breakdown and climate change being others) for urgent transformation of agro-industrial modes of production.
Now is the time to propel the ideas we would like to see in movement towards a more cooperative, sustainable, resilient and social world.
Over the coming weeks, we hope to provide excellent analyses as well as webinars on how we can ensure that the public response to this crisis prioritises those most vulnerable to the virus and does not reward the powerful who seek to profit from it. We also must ensure this moment is used to push for fundamental system change that puts people and planet before profit.
We are calling on you to share with us any work you are doing, for inclusion in this collective resource of a people’s response to Covid-19.
Together, we will weather this storm as we have weathered many before it.
Also available in: Spanish