COVID-19: Facts. Hope. Calmness.

In her introduction to the latest BEDA Newsletter, BEDA’s President Päivi Tahkolkallio offers her response to the COVID-19 crisis. Read it in full here.

Facts. Hope. Calmness.

This was the response a Finnish theologist gave a while ago to the journalist who asked how you could ease the anxiety children feel in front of climate change. Find out the facts, do not give up hope, and even when this is not as easy as it sounds, stay calm.

Little did we know that only some months later we would be faced with another global challenge causing as much anxiety.

In early December last year when BEDA’s first international design policy conference was organised in Helsinki a virus had started to spread in China, a virus that has since been identified as a corona virus and named as COVID-19. Only three months later the epicenter of the virus is Europe, says WHO. Many countries have already closed their borders, some others are planning to, and health care systems all over are facing pressures rarely seen.

Facts. We know a lot but we know too little still. Researchers are working non-stop around the world to understand COVID-19 better. Yet for us citizens a lot of uncertainties remain and we worry, if not for ourselves for our near ones. Hope. Hope is related to trust. Trust is the glue of societies, and where trust is strong, it is easier to keep hoping that the situation will improve, if not immediately, eventually. Calmness is equally related to the glue of societies. We can keep calm, when we trust that our society is able to solve even this challenge, the politicians, experts, next door neighbour and ourselves all taking actions to the best of our ability.

A key to all above is that we continue the dialogue between us. At a time when large and even smaller events are banned, when travelling to some places is already impossible, the power of digital solutions and online communication channels has an unseen value. COVID-19 may stop us meeting face-to-face but it can not stop us meeting online.

The BEDA board already started some weeks ago to create a contingency plan as the coronavirus continues spreading in Europe. As part of the plan we have just informed all our members that our next General Assembly at the end of May will take place, but online only.

In the longer term, I am convinced one of the permanent implications of COVID-19 will be related exactly to digitalisation — one of the three key design policy themes BEDA is working on besides climate change and values. And more, I am sure we will realise those three themes are much more interlinked than we thought. Many more innovations and new digital solutions to support communication and dialogue in our vulnerable world are in need. They all need to be designed. Stay calm. Do not give up hope. Base your work on facts.

And last but not least. This is a time when we all need to take care of each other, our families, friends and those in our societies who are most vulnerable. These are very exceptional times, but we will overcome this. Take care.

Best wishes,

Päivi Tahkokallio
President of BEDA