In this final episode of the first series of the EarthRights podcast, Pippa and Mel are discussing what the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed; the fragilities and inequalities in our system, and why ethical standards need to be restored on our road to recovery.
Ethical standards guide laws, human rights and the ways we live our lives. So Pippa and Mel thought it appropriate to highlight the injustices exacerbated by the pandemic and which therefore need ethical values restored at their centre. Be it state benefits, mental health, domestic abuse, racial injustice and access to food, there have been many traumatic and unfair experiences felt by the population.
The pandemic has brought to the foreground that businesses and powerful bodies have huge amounts of power – and with power comes responsibility. So, in order to grow and learn from the experience we need to acknowledge what is wrong, inhumane and unsustainable and rebalance power in a way that holds businesses and states accountable for their practices.
To understand more about what an ethical recovery might entail, Mel spoke with a leading, practicing academic in global health ethics – Dr Sridhar Venkatapuram (Global Health Institute, King's College London). They discuss the importance of harnessing ethical principles into the process of law making and social change in a post-pandemic world.
“The last year has shown us that simply changing the law or putting in new rights is not enough, what we have to do is make sure there is social acceptance of these things.”
Sridhar also reflects on the HIV/AIDS epidemic and what we can learn and include in the recovery from the current pandemic. We should look at the surrounding social conditions that make people vulnerable – not just wait for a vaccine to protect people from one virus – but actually change the norms and the social conditions, then vulnerable people will be protected from all health dangers.
Following on from the interview, Pippa and Mel make suggestions for how individuals can make an ‘ethical recovery’ in their day-to-day lives. Starting conversations in small spaces, with family and friends, and making small and focused changes, which can be sustained going forward.