“In this combat we cannot leave half of humanity outside our ambitions”

Peter Friberg.

Dear friend,

When I wrote my letter in October it was still with some confidence that COP25 would deliver, “simply because it had to”. But the problems started early on. Due to unstable conditions in Santiago the meeting was moved to Madrid. The expectations were high but unfortunately the results were disappointing. The participating countries failed to agree on new rules for a global carbon trading market. Again, important decisions were postponed for a meeting next year – this time in Glasgow.

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that immediate action is necessary, both regarding climate mitigation and adaptation. But science still has difficulties to make its way to political decisions. I wonder why? What can be more important than the survival of humanity and keeping the planet and its inhabitants healthy?

In this combat we cannot leave half of humanity outside our ambitions. Or as the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez lamented in his opening speech at the COP25: “women and the environment have been forgotten realities for too long”. Women commonly face higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change in situations of poverty – and the majority of the world’s poor are women. And yet, women can and do play a critical role in responding to climate change. One of the goals of COP25, a key priority of Sweden, was to enhance the Lima work programme on gender and its gender action plan. There is a very practical gender dimension in terms of water and climate change.

In the midst of all this the fresh news about the new government in Finland, boasting 63 per cent female ministers and led by 36-year old Sanna Marin are inspiring and important. Inspiring for many countries, including Sweden.

It is still with curiosity, hope and some restlessness I am looking forward to the coming year 2020, the start of the new 20´s with only 10 years left to meet the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda. At SIGHT we are running into our fourth year since our establishment in January 2017 at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Looking back there are so many things to be proud of: our three SIGHT Awardees (please do not miss the interview with Claudia Hanson, SIGHT Awardee 2019), our SIGHT Fellows Alumni and our Student network, our many mind-blowing and challenging meetings around the table at the secretariat and around the world.

In 2020 we will intensify our efforts to enhance the links between climate change and health with focus on children and gender perspectives. We are also, together with our stakeholders, trying to find ways of converting “Sweden’s work on global health – implementing the 2030 Agenda” into more action.

2020 will also be a pivotal year proceeding the work with The Lancet-SIGHT Commission on peaceful societies through health and gender equality, a tough and exciting challenge. With the good work by the commissioners and strong support from The Lancet this is an important endeavor. The commissioners will meet in London in March 2020 to continue the work of producing actionable findings for policymakers, practitioners, scientists, and civil society and the global, national and local level.

This year and this decennium are closing in reflecting over our experiences the past year, and then we welcome the next decade. Thank you so much all friends and colleagues for good moments and inspiration this year. I wish you all a wonderful holiday and break enjoying relaxation and being with family, and a Happy New Year.

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