COVID-19 has been impacting all industries ever since it started to spread to all parts of the world. Governmental entities and United Nations bodies have been playing a key role in countering the ensuing challenges. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has been at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic. In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Bilel Jamoussi, chief of the ITU-T study groups department, elaborated more on the ITU’s response to COVID-19 and the importance of digital transformation and emerging technologies in such challenging times.

Read more: ITU enables the ICT ecosystem to combat COVID-19

In an ever-evolving yet diverse socio-economic market such as the MEA region, telecommunications serve a purpose like no other.

Read more: Nokia: “5G will serve as a key pillar of economic recovery within 2020 and beyond”

OSN, the region’s leading entertainment network, has been providing premium content to subscribers ever since it was established. In the times of COVID-19, the company was one of the few who were able to leverage the situation. In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Zahra Zayat, senior vice president – OTT digital and telco, OSN explains how the company aims to retain subscribers in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Read more: Zahra Zayat leads OSN in the right direction

COVID-19 updates
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Ken Hu, Deputy Chairman at Huawei Technologies.

Global Approach to Global Problems

With COVID-19 sweeping the planet and putting much of the world in lockdown, broader, longer-term issues like the environment tend to – understandably – take a backseat.

While the spread of the coronavirus is a much more immediate concern for individuals, families, and nations, we can still find parallels with the environmental issues that humanity faces: Both are global problems that transcend borders and cultures. Both are crises that have the potential to affect everyone. And both can get worse if we don’t work together to stop them – whether that involves self-isolating or developing a vaccine, or taking steps to live a greener life, or get directly involved in environmental projects.

With so many people across the planet self-isolating, now is an opportunity to reflect not just on keeping safe during the pandemic, but also on the commonalities that bind us all: we live in a global context, we are vulnerable to the same global threats, and we face the same fears.

While we can look forward to a time when the pandemic has passed, the environmental trajectory that we’re on has the potential to not just impact us, but also future generations. That’s why the environment and Earth Hour shouldn’t stay in the backseat of our collective consciousness, even if the threats aren’t as immediate.

Did you know?

  • Biodiversity has decreased by 52% in the last 50 years, according to WWF’s Living Planet Index, and the size of vertebrate populations have declined by 60% on average.
  • If current trends continue, the Earth’s rainforests could disappear within 40 years.
  • Around 1 million species face extinction.
  • We currently consume the resource equivalent of 1.75 planets.
  • More than 1.8 million people lack sufficient access to fresh water.

What can we do?

I believe that technologies like cloud, 5G, IoT, and AI can and are making a difference to protect the environment and biodiversity, as well as having an immediate impact on diagnosing the coronavirus. But as is the case with any global issue, a concerted effort is needed to raise awareness, draw in as many people as possible, and create the partnerships that result in concrete action.

Earth Hour has since grown to engage millions of people across the globe and raise awareness about environmental issues. This year’s Earth Hour asked people to switch off their lights at home on March 28, 8.30pm to 9.30pm local time. In response to the pandemic, earthhour.org recommends that everyone put safety first and focus on the virtual aspects of the event.

All of us – both individuals and organizations – have a responsibility to do what we can to fight global issues together, both those that are immediate and those that are decisive on moving forward together.

That is why I’ll be taking part in Earth Hour and why I hope other people do too. Click the links to read more about what we’re doing to help safeguard the environment. 

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