International Global Citizen's Award

encouraging young people to become better global citizens

These are indeed strange times, as the world adapts to living with Covid 19. 

Mulling over the health crisis, against a background of work on education for global citizenship, a few things occurred to me. 

  1. It really is a global world

The spread of the Covid 19 virus has demonstrated the extent and complexity of our interconnections across the whole globe. A virus infection starting in one city has since spread very quickly to every country, as a result of the movements of people around the world, taking the virus with them. The Covid 19 crisis is a truly global crisis – it affects people everywhere and crosses all national boundaries.

  1. The implications of individual action and benefits of collective action

The virus infection presumably started with one individual being infected from a wild animal. The spread of the virus within our own societies is affected by individual action, and if we act carelessly or recklessly we can infect others or endanger ourselves.

Collective action where everyone in a society acts to stop the spread has benefits for everyone. The individual is less likely to become infected, and others are less likely to be infected too. Overall, collective action can keep down the level of infection.


  1. The importance of human connections with nature

This has been demonstrated in several ways.

First, the virus infected humans from a wild animal. This was also the case with HIV-AIDS, Ebola, Zika fever, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and SARS. As the human population grows and extends its activities and exploitation into forests and other wilderness areas not previously developed, people are coming into closer contact with animal species they have not had close contact with before. Our exploitation of and interference with natural ecosystems can infect us with viruses from wild animals.

Second, during lock down, and particularly in towns and cities, people became more aware of the restorative effect of interacting with nature. Green spaces, wild places, watching animals and seeing plants have a very positive effect on our sense of well being.

Third, reduced human activity – less driving and travel in urban areas – led to wild animals entering or re-entering towns and cities. Animals became more active in the spaces humans were occupying less.

All of these lead us to the conclusion that nature should be respected and cherished. (See the excellent materials for use by individual students from TedEd and UN Environment Program for use by individual students at Earth School below.) Described elsewhere on this site at:

  1. The importance of organised action and measures to combat global diseases

While the actions of individuals are important in spreading – or not  spreading – Covid 19, the importance of organisation at national and international levels is highlighted.  The actions and impact of the World Health Organisation show the need for international research, coordination and cooperation. At national level, the importance of public health organisations and of wise and well-judged political decisions has been demonstrated. The extent and pattern of Covid 19 infection in individual countries has varied enormously and has in part reflected the quality of public health provision and expertise and the quality of political leadership.

This reminds us that there is a limit to the impact and effect of individual actions. Our efforts to minimise our own individual environmental impact are necessarily limited, for instance. If we really care about an issue then we need to act at a personal, individual level, but we also need to contribute to moves to get change at political or organisational levels.


As we work with IGCA participants to become better global citizens the Covid 19 pandemic certainly gives us plenty of points to think about.

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