The current pandemic is probably one of the biggest challenges my generation has and will have faced during its lifetime (I am in my 20s by the way). While we are doing social distancing and in self-isolation, people are having to deal with difficulties such as a decrease in motivation, hopelessness, depression, stress, fear and low productivity.
While there is a lot to be feared, there are also a number of good things that are happening. The air around the world is cleaner and fewer pollutants are entering the sea, combined with fewer planes flying and luxury cruise ships sailing the sea. Streets are less noisy, and families are spending more time together. It is clear that the hectic pace of the world has slowed.
Yes, we'll overcome this virus. But we should also learn from this new way of being and living. In his book, “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”, Yuval Noah Harari notes that “Even though the technological challenges are unprecedented and the political disagreements intense, humankind can rise to the occasion if we keep our fears under control and be a bit more humble about our views.”
The Independent Evaluation Unit (IEU) of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) has embraced the inevitable changes introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic as a new normal and has found ways to cope with it in a healthy way. Below are a few ways we are dealing with self-isolation and social distancing.
Jo (Head of the IEU): “I am trying to read a lot and have carefully organized my meetings so that I have time to read and think and not jump from one meeting to another. Although the length of my day has increased, I try to go for runs or bicycle rides in the middle of the day when possible.”
Andreas (Principal Evaluation Officer): “It important to structure my day and I have set times for tasks. At the same time, I try to switch off in the evenings, even if this is hard, and cook. Regular calls with my friends and family have also become much more important. FaceTime and Skype have been an invaluable resource in connecting with the outside world.”
Solomon (Principal Evaluation Officer): “The current situation is a great opportunity to spend more time with family members and form tighter bonds. I have also enjoyed running with my wife outdoors when the weather permits.”
Yeonji (Communications and Editing Associate): “I am trying to eat smaller portions and do indoor workouts to stay fit. Inspired by other colleagues, I have selected some books for reading that I have never gotten around to finishing. Regularly counting the many blessings in my life has also been a practice for this challenging time. Talking with my family and friends on a regular basis has also enabled me to stay positive and hopeful.”
Nana (Research Assistant Consultant): “The Special Flexible Work Arrangement (SFWA) that the GCF has instituted has made me appreciate daily life more. I have also realized that it is the small events like going out to eat with friends that make our life fuller and more enriching.”
Peter (Evaluation Researcher – Quantitative): “Sometimes it is hard to keep myself motivated but my “to-do list” helps me to remain focused on the important goals for the day. After finishing my work, I like to spend time in the garden and with family.”
Elang (Operations Assistant Consultant): “Since the arrival of SFWA, I have largely kept my daily routine intact. Exercising is important to me along with having some time in the sun. I am a bit of a ‘sunflower’, and it boosts my energy to be outdoors (while keeping a good distance from others of course)!”
IEU as one family: The IEU regularly organizes virtual meetings to implement its workplan and deliver its evaluations and other activities. These include large team meetings as well as smaller sub-group meetings. We also make it a point to do our social activities virtually through our weekly ‘coffee and cake chat’. Thus, we have ample opportunities, throughout the week, to check in with one another and remain connected on a deeper level, despite being located in different countries around the world.
While these are very challenging times, we at the IEU are trying more innovative ways to fulfil our mandate. We are also learning much about our own selves, our family and society. Each day that I spend alone, I get to focus on and learn more about myself. Without having to spend so much time on commuting to work, I have ample time to do the tasks I kept pushing aside before. I can confidently say that this isolation period has made me look for a silver lining and cherish small moments and the time I have.
Stay safe. Let's help people spread positivity all over the world!
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The Independent Evaluation Unit, Green Climate Fund: @GCF_Eval