To bounce back[wards], or to bounce forwards — to a clean, green future?

In my piece, Postcards from March 2020, previously published in Medium, and looking towards our post-COVID-19 world, I asked the questions:

“Where do we go from here? And how do we get there?”

Be assured, there are those who will want to soothe us back to the old ‘normal’ as quickly as possible. That was the system that benefited them the most — with profit for them at the expense of most others and at the expense of the planet.

In his April 10, 2020 Medium article, Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting*, Julio Vincent Gambuto has warned us that:

“Pretty soon, as the [US] begins to figure out how we “open back up” and move forward, very powerful forces will try to convince us all to get back to normal.”

He continues:

“But [the old normal’s] flaws have been laid bare for all to see. It doesn’t work for everyone. It’s responsible for great destruction. It is so unevenly distributed in its benefit that three men own more wealth than 150 million people. Its intentions have been perverted, and the protection it offers has disappeared. In fact, it’s been brought to its knees by one pangolin. We have got to do better and find a way to a responsible free market.”

My friend and colleague, Zeina Elali, Senior Sustainability Advisor and Associate at Perkins and Will in Toronto, leads off her provocative April 24, 2020 LinkedIn piece,

How we respond to COVID19, and how we emerge, is how history will remember us., with

“How we are responding to COVID19 in each of our individual sectors, is how history will remember us. All those history books you read in elementary school ended each chapter with how societies changed post-event.

We are making history, what would you like to change?”

Seldom, if ever, in our lives do we get such an opportunity as this moment to pause, reflect, and act on how we’d like things to be different going forward.

To be certain, as governments all over the world know and are currently demonstrating, we need an economic recovery plan. First, we will need a short-term benefit plan so that families are fed and people have jobs to which to return. Second, we will need a long-term strategy that provides for a stable economy into the future.

It is in this long-term strategy that our principal choices lie.

Do we want to return to an economy like it was only 2 short months ago?

Can we return to the old economy, even if we want to?

Might there be something better for us?

There are intelligent and influential people all over the world who believe that yes, we can redirect our future economies towards the 3 Ps of sustainability: People, Planet, and Prosperity to deliver, simultaneously, the optimal balance of social equity, environmental responsibility, and financial security for all — creating a virtuous circle.

Here, in Canada, on April 22, 2020, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, 210 Clean50 Award Recipients joined together in an open letter to ask our governments for A Clean Reset for a Healthy, Just, and Prosperous Canada.

These 210 signatories are all award-winning leaders in fighting climate change, protecting the environment, and championing social inclusion, drawn from every single sector and segment of the Canadian economy, and from every part of the country.

The open letter is further endorsed by 25 influential individuals and organizations.

Fellow Canadians!

Please join this request for a better future.

Copy the open letter — put your own personal endorsement on top — and email your local MP!

We Canadians are not alone in calling for what is, in essence, a Green New Deal.

Also on April 22, 2020, Australia’s Commission for the Human Future, a group of leading academics and scientists, put out this call to action, which will be followed up by a letter to several hundred leading Australian thinkers and researchers. The Commission “calls on the nations and peoples of the Earth to come together, as a matter of urgency, to prepare a plan for humanity to survive and thrive, far into the future.”

Again, on April 22, 2020, Scientific American published that the US Democratic Party’s Green New Deal Is More Relevant Than Ever, as “[t]he four interconnected crises [the COVID-19 pandemic, a looming economic recession, extreme inequality and a climate emergency] now challenging the U.S. call for radical economic restructuring.”

On April 16, 2020, it was announced that South Korea is to set a Green New Deal with “a 2050 net zero emissions goal and end coal financing, after the [South Korean] Democratic Party’s landslide victory in one of the world’s first Covid-19 elections.”

Perhaps less certain than South Korea’s Green New Deal, but more certain than the US’s, is the European Green Deal. On April 11, 2020, we learned that France and Germany had joined a group of 10 other EU countries in calling for a green recovery.

The Green Deal “must be central to a resilient recovery after COVID-19,” EU environment ministers wrote in an opinion piece published on Climate Home News, a specialised information site.

“The Green Deal provides us with a roadmap to make the right choices in responding to the economic crisis while transforming Europe into a sustainable and climate neutral economy,” the ministers wrote in the commentary piece.

“We should withstand the temptations of short-term solutions in response to the present crisis that risk locking the EU in a fossil fuel economy for decades to come,” the text reads.

In the UK, only 9% of Briton’s want life to return to ‘normal’ once the lockdown is over, SkyNews published on April 17, 2020.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA [Royal Society of Arts, who commissioned the survey], said that while it was right the immediate emergency was the priority, “we must use this time to imagine a better future”.

He said:

“This poll shows that the British people are increasingly aware that the health of people and planet are inseparable and it’s time for radical environmental, social, political and economic change.”

Yet, there will be many forces wanting us to return to the comfort of the past ‘normal’ …and they are all meeting in video conferences, planning this, as we speak.

Do not be swayed by their soothing voices promising that ‘everything will be alright.’

It wasn’t alright before.

Not for most of us. It was only alright for a few.

We deserve better.

Imagine ‘better’ now and START DEMANDING IT, NOW !

Do not wait …that may be too late to resist those who profited most from the old way.

There can be plenty for all of us.

Jeff Bezos does not need one-more-thin-dime !


It is time for us to choose People, Planet, and Prosperity to deliver, simultaneously, the optimal balance of social equity, environmental responsibility, and financial security for all — creating a virtuous circle.


Remember to join this request for a better future.

Copy the open letter — put your own personal endorsement on top — and email your local MP!

Copy: open letter

Write your personal endorsement.

Email your MP:

How little has changed since the second Earth Day in 1971?

It is NOW our time to CHOOSE BETTER !

About the author: Paul Dowsett is a leading thinker and advocate in the space of sustainability and architecture. He is the founding Principal Architect at Sustainable, an architectural design collaborative that works to create a healthy planet.