Challenges of the 21st century: Can we conquer them?

Are we procrastinating the solutions to challenges of the 21st century in the name of economic growth? asks Priyal Tale

Ralph Waldo Emerson rightly said: “Every wall is a door.” But the whirling dilemma we face today is whether we are creating doors out of walls or walls out of doors? Are we creating a heaven on earth or destructing its beauty?

The progress in technology in the past 500 years has opened the potential of the human brain and spirit to us. However, the COVID19 has revealed our weaknesses in the face of contemporary problems.

Challenges of the 21st century challenges cannot be solved by a 20th century attitude of neglect and apathy. These can only be solved by innovation, imagination and integrity not merely of our leaders but also of every single individual on this earth.

Let’s start of with analyzing some of these challenges and find potential solutions for them.

Increased inequalities

Due to development in agriculture, healthcare facilities and scientific inventions our standard of living has increased significantly. This has led to the challenges of increasing population, pollution, unsustainable use of resources to satisfy the increasing demand for our needs. The overpopulated cities remind us of the ants living in their colonies. This has resulted in multiple problems like improper urban planning, lack of sanitation facilities, drinking water, food, shelter, energy scarcity, etc. Globalisation and transportation have transformed our lives, but now we are building the walls of aggressive nationalism and protectionism which is reflected through trade wars, increasing tariffs, cyber threats and social diplomacy. This has caused an increase in the divide between rural-urban, north-south, developed-developing including other economic, social and political inequalities. Are we working enough to see that no one is left behind?

Hunger

Even a single child going hungry throws shame on the entire human species, but today, according to the WHO 850 million people go hungry everyday which adds to nearly one-tenth of the total world population. Hunger, poverty, climate change, population, pollution, floods, droughts, heatwaves, food security are all related to each other. All this can be solved by increasing awareness, education, by increasing research and use of better environment friendly alternatives. We need to cooperate with one another for the betterment of all, but instead of doing this when the world is coming closer, the people are going away because of selfish interests. 

The Digital Divide 

We need to understand that if the misusers of technology are getting smart, the protectors of security need to get smarter. For this technological education needs to be promoted. The growth of the internet has brought a challenge of digital divide. In all this, the children, elderly and women are affected the most due to lack of access. The gaps in education and information need to be solved by inclusive policies and schemes. 

The increasing state funded cyber attacks, the wave of dis-information, fake news and the spread of false propagandas is acting as a divide, in not only individuals but also nations. The role of social media in US elections, Brexit, increase in terrorist radicalisation through false propaganda are few examples of our huge challenges.

Data is the new gold, we need to promote data security, privacy and reduce the trade monopolies to the big technological giants by increasing taxes. This money can be utilised to support the poor with Universal Basic Income.

The role of media in stopping terrorism, communalism, protectionism, fake news is very important. It has the power to educate masses. The participation of youth in every aspect is important and the government faces a challenge of creating new jobs. We need to overcome this as urgently and effectively as possible in order to reap the benefits of our demographic dividend. This can be done by tackling the 21st century challenges and predicting the future problems. 

Patriarchy

The patriarchal mindset which is supposed to be  an age old concept shows its roots even today. Women face many challenges like gender discrimination, unequal wages, period poverty, access to education, early marriages, etc. We have come a long way in improving the condition of women, we need to go much farther. We need to involve them in innovation, economy, sports and understand that women’s issues are important for the development of the world.

Climate change

Carbon Tax is a good solution to the growing concerns of carbon emissions. Developed countries like the USA should learn that global warming and climate change will be a threat to all and will affect both developed and developing nations equally. Instead of fighting for arms and economic supremacy, we all must focus on building sustainable nature based innovations and make sure we bring them to practice.

Civil Society Participation

This chain of problems can only be stopped only if we plan and execute policies, reduce the shortcomings. For this active participation of every citizen is important. After-all we are all global citizens and we need to work for our brothers and sisters in every part of the world. We need to be mindful of the fundamental human values of community welfare, compassion, sympathy, etc. In this nature will guide us. So let the challenges be defined by us as opposed to the challenges defining us. Let’s accept the challenge of passing a more beautiful, greener, healthier planet to the next generation. 

          Let these words of Swami Vivekananda guide us on our path to development: “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached.”

Feature Image: Freepik

Priyal Tale

Priyal Tale is a final year humanities student from Akola district located in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region in India. She believes that we need to take collective actions in achieving the SDGs. She is passionate about knowing global social issues. The issues like inclusive growth, lack of awareness regarding SDGs in the area from where she belongs, lack of people’s participation in governance, gender sensitisation, sanitation and hygiene, period poverty, lack of skill development and opportunities for youth, etc. are the things which she is concerned about the most. She likes participating in SDG hakathons, essay competitions, student conferences on sustainable development. She is also an active member of Global Citizen.

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Challenges of the 21st century: Can we conquer them?

by Priyal Tale Reading time: 4 min
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