No matter where you live in the world, I am guessing you are consumed by global and local news on the spread of COVID-19 and doing your best to figure out how to act, what to prepare for and what this means for your region, country, community, work, family and friends.
Over the course of two hours on Wednesday, March 11 the seriousness of this pandemic really hit home as the Lebanese borders closed which meant Dona Geagea who leads our WIL program there could no longer get back in and immediately new plans were being discussed for our programs there. Olivia Allen, who had just arrived in the Yukon to deliver youth leadership training, had to make fast decisions and move the gathering online. Ontario schools were closing with several school-based workshops scheduled in the weeks ahead. Our Water Innovation Lab in Brazil was due to launch the next day. My head was spinning yet also jumping ahead at great speed thinking about all our programs. What is currently being delivered, about to be delivered, pending proposals, future planning, new initiatives, and all the aspects needed to lead our team and community in these uncertain times?
Leaders are only good if they are ahead of the curve, position themselves and those they lead ahead of a crisis.Karen Kun
None of us know exactly how it will play out. All indicators suggest this is going to be very difficult. The sooner we accept this, take every effort to remove ourselves from all public spaces and be conscientious when we do need to step out for essential services, the sooner we can help others.
This crisis is truly showing us all how connected we are to each other across the globe. This is a positive thing, to be connected, which I think is making it hard for people to pull back and physically isolate themselves. It is already becoming apparent how hard it is and will be for people to be isolated, earn a living and support those who are more vulnerable.
As a first step to the many pivots and changes we are going to be making at Waterlution, in Canada and globally, we are certain that we want to create a socially inclusive environment – one that will exist online. How that rolls out, is still in the works.
Immediately, we will work from home, and are in active discussions about how to offer meaningful content for our global community.
It is strikingly obvious that so much of the unfolding of this pandemic is rooted in leadership and the decisions being made by leaders across countries, health organizations, institutions of all sizes and communities. Leaders are only good if they are ahead of the curve, position themselves and those they lead ahead of a crisis. That they source, consume, and analyze critical information quickly and make decisions to avert problems, in this case, to contain a super spreading virus. One leadership example I admire is coming from Singapore. They had the historical experience from the SARS crisis, they had created scenarios and a plan for each of them, took the threat seriously and were able to act quickly, as they had done the pre-work needed. To be clear, we have seen various forms of leadership, and actions, yet very few leaders have boldly risen to the mammoth scale of the problem. However, a wonderful study will surely unfold around differing leadership styles, the cultural, and political backbones that are so very linked to specific leaders. From this study, how can we enhance training opportunities to strengthen the skills for leaders, regardless of the number of people they are leading or aspire to lead? This is what gives me hope, the opportunity to ask timely questions and build pathways for personal, community and organizational resilience.
Within all these aspects, we are doing our best to stay positive, and to think of ways to support each other and our community to elevate our spirits, share knowledge and our connections to each other.Karen Kun
In the days and weeks ahead, we look forward to sharing more on all the plans we have at Waterlution and how we are adapting within this challenging time.
We have been looking forward to sharing the launch of:
- WIL Brasil which for 2020 is focused on 4 different water themes – spread out in 2 different cities, with four 2-day workshops;
- WIL Lebanon which is designed to be deliverer in late June 2020 building on our learning from last year and adding several new elements;
- WIL Global 2020, our first global gathering of past WILers, and new young water leaders around two central themes of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus and Coastal Communities & Resiliency;
- Our youth advisory board trainings and in-school programs are also exploring creative ways to engage virtually;
- And, our Great Art for Great Lakes 2020 artists will be announced next week, and like everything else, we are looking at ways to teach new arts-based skills through online platforms.
Within all these aspects, we are doing our best to stay positive, and to think of ways to support each other and our community to elevate our spirits, share knowledge and our connections to each other.
Since the start of Waterlution, we have shared how water is a metaphor for connection. This feels especially true amid this crisis.
This COVOD-19 will pass, none of us know when, and within that, how do we want to want to emerge the other side? What will have been accomplished over the next weeks, months, dare I say it, even year(s) that sets us up for positive pathways forward? This is about looking far into the future and building scenarios on what may exist, so we are prepared in the short, medium and longer term.
We look forward to updating you once we have a clear plan forward.
We are globally in this together,