TIME 2030 is a new project focusing on how we build a healthier, more resilient and just world. In reporting it, our editorial staff will be guided by a committee of leaders across a variety of fields.
The 2030 committee includes chef José Andrés, epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, Ghanaian entrepreneur and educator Fred Swaniker, Ford Foundation president Darren Walker, designer Christian Siriano, actor and humanitarian Angelina Jolie, Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good and the extraordinary 2020 TIME Kid of the Year, 15-year-old Gitanjali Rao. They’ll be joined in due course by others, as the project continues into the decade.
For its launch, we asked each committee member to suggest a solution to a major problem facing us. The ideas they came back with range from different ways to view the world, to lofty ambitions and emerging innovations. Here they are:
Tackle the climate crisis before we run out of time
For years we were warned that a global pandemic was inevitable, yet our response has shown a gigantic failure of imagination, preparation and global cooperation. The parallels with the climate emergency are obvious. We are on track for a catastrophe that dwarfs the COVID-19 crisis. The latest data shows heating on its way to 3°C above preindustrial levels by the end of this century—well beyond the 1.5°C to 2°C ceiling the world’s governments have agreed to work toward.
There is still time to get this critical situation under control, but none to lose. The climate crisis is already playing out not just in extreme weather and degradation of the natural environment but also in food insecurity and the displacement of millions. Climate-change impacts are already a common thread of destruction and violence from the Sahel and South Sudan to Central America. We’ve always relied on peace to enable refugees and the internally displaced to return home, but when people are forced from their homeland by climate change as well as conflict, some may have nowhere viable to return to.
In the words of climate activist Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, “There is no vaccine against climate change.” We know what needs to be done: keep fossil fuels in the ground, switch to renewable energy, and help countries and communities on the front lines to adapt and prepare for what is to come. And we must find ways to resolve conflicts and bring down refugee numbers globally. Speed and scale are of the essence—we are counting
on political leadership at all levels. People often ask, how many people could be displaced by the climate emergency? The answer depends on us.
Jolie is an actor and activist
Find a way to rekindle a sense of global unity
By Dr. Larry Brilliant
Modernity has exacerbated a class of problems that we’re going to have to solve in the next 10 years: climate change, nuclear proliferation, scarcity of resources, pandemics and the knock-on effects that we aren’t even aware of. And a characteristic of this class of problems is that they are multinational. They can’t be solved at the national level.
The last time we had problems of this scale, after WW II, we created alliances that would keep us together—NATO, the U.N., that whole alphabet soup of acronyms. All we had to give up was the illusion that we were not all interdependent on one another. To exchange a bit of our rugged individualism for curiosity about people who look different from us.
Today, we’ve lost the willingness to make that trade. Nationalism is on the rise, as well as distrust of globalism and alliances. We’ve lost interest in creating institutions that have the resources and the power to tackle the challenges we face.
I don’t know how we solve all these problems. It’s part education. It’s part redistribution of wealth and opportunity. But in doing so we need to find a way to think differently—to appreciate and understand this beautiful, wonderful experiment called humanity, and kindle a collective feeling that we’re all in it together. Just 75 years ago, leaders joined in the quest for something larger than the self and larger than country. We need to find our way back to that kind of optimism.
Brilliant is an epidemiologist and the CEO of Pandefense Advisory
Invest in green stoves that will help feed the world
By José Andrés
Today, nearly half the world’s population still depends on open fires and solid fuels to cook their meals. Millions of people—mostly women, who do the cooking, and their children—die every year because of the smoke and pollution from these fires. Their children, usually daughters, may spend hours each day gathering wood, keeping them out of school and putting them into dangerous situations as they go out alone and unprotected. Cutting trees for fuel leads to deforestation, causing landslides and erosion of fertile land that can run off into the ocean, damaging coral reefs and marine ecosystems. It is a negative feedback loop with huge consequences, and it costs the global economy trillions of dollars annually.
The solution to this global crisis is simple but amazing: clean cooking. If we are able to introduce cleaner, modern cooking energy, and cookstoves for families and communities around the world, we can reverse this negative cycle with a positive one: mothers can cook safely for their families; more daughters can earn an education; forests, soils and reefs can be restored; and the climate can start to heal. Clean cooking is truly the best investment we can make for a healthier humanity and a healthier planet.
Andrés is a chef and the founder of World Central Kitchen
Enshrine Internet access as a human right
By Darren Walker
In the age we live in, the digital highway is where opportunity lies. But the COVID-19 crisis has exposed the fact that millions of Americans are being denied access to that highway because of the often exorbitant subscription rates of broadband Internet. Schoolchildren across the country who are supposed to be learning remotely cannot do so because they have no equipment or ability to connect. Opportunity is going to be foreclosed to millions of low-income people because they can’t afford to gain access to the digital highway through Internet service providers.
We need a bold and ambitious plan to ensure that every person in America is able to get online—and I believe that begins with making access to the Internet a fundamental human right. Investment and innovation in fiber-optic and 5G infrastructure opens up the potential for extraordinary connectivity but also for leaving poor and working-class families even further behind.
The government should work with ISPs so they are fairly compensated, while also regulating them in a way that ensures affordable access for all. But that requires making that access a right and not a privilege, ensuring that this country’s legacy for being a place of economic and social mobility can continue into the future.
Walker is president of the Ford Foundation
Make every vehicle electric by 2030
By Lynn Good
Countries, companies and communities are talking about the need to significantly reduce carbon emissions by 2030. But simply eliminating carbon from the nation’s power supply is not enough. The transportation sector is now the largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S. The solution: electrifying vehicles. It benefits the utility, the customer, the environment and the economy. It’s a win-win for all.
If we ensured 100% of vehicles sold by 2030 were electric, we’d create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, secure American global EV manufacturing leadership, improve public health and significantly reduce pollution.
The next decade will be critical in implementing federal policies that accelerate this transition. Reducing carbon in power generation and transportation fleets is the only way we can meet this challenge.
Good is CEO of Duke Energy
Say no thanks to fast fashion
By Christian Siriano
Consumption is a big challenge for us as humans—we need, we want, we like a lot of things. The fashion retail world today, where a knockoff designer bag is available for $20, only fuels this unsustainable consumerism. What’s special anymore? Do we really need to own 10,000 bags? The vast majority of these products end up in landfills, and over 60% of fabric fibers are synthetics derived from fossil fuels, so they don’t decay.
That’s why we recently stopped our wholesale business and moved to smaller collections. I don’t want my clothes to be considered unaffordable, but I do want people to think about why they cost more. It’s because a couture seamstress spent 15 hours sewing them. Perhaps, if more people valued the craft that goes into fashion, they’d realize the value of investing in one beautifully made item rather than in 10 other pieces. If human beings are going to consume, let’s make sure we do so thoughtfully.
Siriano is a fashion designer
Use the Internet to level the educational playing field
By Gitanjali Rao
In the coming decade, we need to alleviate problems regarding the availability of educational resources around the world, especially in economically disadvantaged countries. About 258 million children and youth worldwide do not have access to education, putting them in real danger and limiting their opportunities for the rest of their lives.
To tackle this issue, we must invest in opening up the ways in which we connect with students and schools. Many of the common problems in mass education today—such as lack of infrastructure, inability to physically go to a school and shortage of teachers—can all be eliminated through remote teaching, right in a student’s home with the option to learn anytime. We are already being forced to innovate in this area because of COVID-19, but the pandemic has also highlighted how many families lack the resources to participate in online education. With the leaps we’ve made in wireless network bandwidths and 5G, it is possible to provide accessible quality education and learning to anybody, anywhere, through virtual learning, augmented reality and holograms. And using these collaboration tools, students of all ages can have a collective learning experience across nations and boundaries.
Rao is TIME’s 2020 Kid of the Year
Solve the global housing crisis by printing 3-D homes
By Fred Swaniker
Africa is urbanizing rapidly. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, its cities will be home to an extra 950 million people over the next 30 years, creating challenges with sanitation, security, traffic, governance and the environment.
One of the most critical challenges will be housing. Today, it can cost up to $30,000 to build a decent home for a small family in an African city and typically takes several years. I know this firsthand, as it took my parents about 20 years to build their home in Accra, Ghana, because they did not have access to mortgage finance. They had to build it slowly, brick by brick, from their savings each year. It’s not just an African problem; by 2030, 3 billion people, or 40% of the world’s population, will need affordable housing.
One way to solve this challenge is the 3-D printing of homes. In Mexico, innovative startups have already made it possible to build a two-bedroom home in 24 hours for less than $4,000, making it accessible for families earning less than $3 a day.
I like to say that constraints drive innovation. Rapid urbanization presents a massive constraint. Let’s leapfrog it and provide clean, safe and affordable housing to billions of people by 2030.
Swaniker is founder of the African Leadership Group
This appears in the February 1, 2021 issue of TIME.