Traffic was almost nonexistent on the 110 Freeway near downtown L.A. in March 2020. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Los Altos High School

Opinion: Strengthening industrialization, infrastructure, and innovation with collaboration

Employment, gross domestic product, and sustainable industrialization are some of the key words emphasized by the United Nation’s Envision2030 Goal 9. These are no longer just words from an international agency or some nameless government officials that are meaningless to the average person.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a near standstill on innovation and progress. Entire countries have been ground to a halt, air traffic has been almost wiped out, and where there should be cooperation among nations, the world continues to see the competition and name-blaming.

To fully recover from the pandemic, once a vaccine is released, the global community needs to cooperate and rebuild our economies — to do that they need to focus on the exact targets outlined in the UN’s Goal 9.

However, to recover from the COVID-19 shutdown we need to focus on more than rebuilding our industries and economy. Haphazardly, reopening the world back up and going back to business-as-usual is not the right approach. We need to do so in a sustainable mindset.

According to the UN’s 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report, a group of European researchers proposed that utilizing an inclusive and sustainable approach is the best way to promote a larger quality of life for the greatest number of people. This same group of researchers further explain that investment in research and development (R&D) are both key to achieving the sustainable results we all desire.

Therefore, it is important for governments to take both short and long-term approaches to our recovery. Short-term is to reopen gradually and simultaneously with the release of a vaccine. Long-term is to roll out additional focus and funding for R&D activities to empathize advancements in the fields of infrastructure. These long-term activities should be considered not costs, but investments in our future.

Cooperation and collaboration is also a key to achieve meaningful and widely accepted advancements. Even in the time of a pandemic we see that governments and business can quickly be encouraged to work in a collaborative mindset.

Unfortunately, it took COVID-19 to ramp up this cooperation, but we have already seen the dividends beginning to pay off with the amount of late stage testing of various vaccines around the world. Without such cooperation vaccine development may have taken years. The same cooperation can also be applied to other areas of mutual concern such as sustainable energy and infrastructure being one of them.