If you could invent a post-pandemic world, what world would you create?
I hear a lot of people talking about the desire to return to “normal.” However, normal was unsustainable. Before the pandemic, there was another crisis, an environmental crisis. A crisis in our food systems, our energy systems, our clean water systems, and our unequal economic systems. Coronavirus did not break our systems. It revealed how broken our systems already are.
There is a saying, “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them." That is why, when faced with intractable problems like COVID-19 or the climate crisis, I like to talk to thought leaders.
On the other side of the pandemic, we have an opportunity to begin again. What world can you imagine in a post-pandemic world? I asked this question to Jessica Hellmann, the Director of the Institute on Environment at the University of Minnesota.
The Institute on the Environment has a bold vision for the world:
- Sustainable agriculture feeds the world.
- Renewable energy powers healthy homes, efficient transportation, and flourishing businesses.
- Every person has access to food, water and shelter.
- Oceans, lakes and rivers are clean and healthy.
- Communities have vibrant economies, neighborhoods and cultures.
- Thriving ecosystems support thriving economies and societies. Overall, humanity restores and renews resources for the benefit of all living things.
IonE is accelerating the transition to this future by supporting breakthrough research across disciplines. They develop the next generation of global leaders, discover breakthrough solutions, and build transformative partnerships.
“Universities have been profoundly important in figuring out what environmental issues are,” Jessica explains. “Now, it’s equally, if not more important in addressing those problems.”
Jessica says, “Occasionally, there are projects or activities that are created within an interdisciplinary institute. Some ideas continue to flourish within an institute, and some go off elsewhere.”
One example of a spinoff from the institute is Geofinancial Analytics. Jessica is the Chief Scientist at Geofinancial Analytics. They are a science-driven benefit corporation. Their mission is to accelerate capital flow from climate stressors to sustainable solutions. They inform investment decisions with transparent, objective facts.
Learn More About Jessica Hellmann: