Director’s corner June/July 2019

Peter Friberg.
Peter Friberg, Director SIGHT

Dear reader,

The world is holding its breath. Increased tension between the USA and Iran and sanctions against the Iranian people cause suffering and anxiety. Tension between the USA and North Korea is prevailing. Let us hope that intense rhetoric is not translated into action.

The world needs to consider, seriously, how money is spent. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI the collected global military expenditure has by 2018 reached $1.8 trillion (sic), which represented 2.1% of global GDP. The USA and China accounted for 50% of the world’s military spending, and is now 76% higher than the post-cold war at its lowest in 1998.

To me, and I am sure to all of us, this is an outrageous development. Imagine what we could do for the climate, environment and poverty reduction for only a small portion of that money. We need strong and brave voices to speak up, like Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet and Hans Blix, former Director General of the IAEA to secure a bright – and hopefully a nuclear-weapon-free – world for coming generations.

Peace talks and negotiations are key. If not successful the risk for nuclear attacks are imminent, and the world situation can change within the hour. Therefore it is hopeful to read the interview with professor Peter Wallensteen, renowned peace and conflict researcher at Uppsala university, him being optimistic and saying that today´s conflicts are resolvable.

Right now, we have the largest generation of adolescents and young people in human history (1.8 billion) which is challenging in many ways but experiencing the energy and the desire of so many young people to take responsibility and to make a difference, gives me hope.

In the light of peace and conflict, an inaugural meeting on the Lancet-SIGHT Commission on how health and gender equity can lead to peaceful and inclusive societies was arranged by SIGHT in May. Very engaged commissioners came from different parts of the world to contribute to a good start of the Commission and we are privileged to have the former President of Finland, Tarja Halonen as the chair of the Commission. Much work, no doubt, and more information later.

One of SIGHT´S objectives is to work with issues around children and adolescents. These groups are in particular exposed to a changing world, not the least related to areas with conflicts. SIGHT, together with the Swedish Society of Medicine, can now proudly present a comprehensive report “Placing children at the centre of the Sustainable Development Goals – a roadmap on global child health”. (You find it here)

Right now, we have the largest generation of adolescents and young people in human history (1.8 billion) which is challenging in many ways but experiencing the energy and the desire of so many young people to take responsibility and to make a difference, gives me hope.

Sweden goes now slowly into vacation and a hibernating period to enjoy sun, light and long evenings. I wish you all a wonderful summer and relaxing period.