Earth Day and what climate action looks like during COVID-19

April 20, 2020


On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, an annual event for people to show their support for protecting the Earth, we are also faced with a pandemic unprecedented in our lifetimes, and which requires a global response.

COVID-19 spread in a matter of months across the world and has had devastating impacts, particularly on vulnerable communities. In an increasingly connected world, we feel a sense of responsibility to care for each other. The indiscriminate nature of the pandemic has resulted not only in a shared sense of suffering, but in a shared sense of caring too, regardless of where in the world you live.

A better future

Where does climate change fit in this context? It may not seem as urgent as the pandemic, and some may find cause for celebration in news and pictures of cities with car-free streets and clear skies. Tackling the pandemic is a critical priority for sure, but we should also consider how we can lay the building blocks for a better future for all. The science is clear; countries must take action now to transition to resilient, low-carbon pathways in order to limit global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. There is no going back, and failure to do so will result in not a “new normal” but a “no normal”.

At UNDP, we are committing significant resources from our climate and sustainable development portfolio to prepare, respond, and recover, and to protect all people,  especially the most vulnerable, from pandemic and disaster. How do we tackle climate change and the pandemic? One way is through UNDP’s Climate Promise; our commitment to support over 100 countries to enhance their pledges under the Paris Agreement. These can provide helpful roadmaps to inform the COVID-19 recovery and support long-term change that makes economies more equitable, resilient, and driven by green growth.

This Earth Day, stay home and play

People everywhere are working together, and governments are taking strong and decisive action. This is a chance for us to raise our voice.

There is no better time to stay home and play our mobile game Mission 1.5, to learn about the solutions to climate change and start a conversation about a sustainable future. The web-based game, available in six UN languages, was launched in February by UNDP as part of the Climate Promise, in partnership with several environmental and science NGOs, and technology partners. It is a tool for anyone to vote on climate action. UNDP will collect the votes and deliver them to world leaders.  

This Earth Day, we will see young climate activists fill the digital landscape with online strikes for climate action, while also calling for people to stay home and play Mission 1.5. We are seeing in the global response to the pandemic just how effectively people around the world can come together to tackle a crisis.

Mission 1.5

In China, one of the largest game streaming platforms Huya, has joined the force of Mission 1.5. With 150 million unique users per month, Huya will help the mobile game reach millions of new players and educate them on ways to tackle climate change. In Turkey, a well-known gamer Ege Arseven has also joined, promoting and streaming on his Twitch platform for Earth Day.

In addition to Mission 1.5, Samsung Galaxy users can easily support climate action, learn about the SDGs, and even donate to UNDP by downloading the Samsung Global Goals app from Google Play. The most exciting part of these partnerships are that these mobile game and app technology is reaching millions of people that can now make their voices heard.

If there is one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, it is that we are all capable of adapting. There is so much hope and evidence that working together in international solidarity in the service of the most vulnerable will meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.