As the vaccines have rolled out across multiple countries, health systems have started inoculating millions and a new administration begins their leadership in Washington after a free and fair election, what better time than now to look for reasons to be optimistic for 2021? The world has changed because of the pandemic, and merely considering a post-pandemic world is surely a reason for optimism.
I humbly set forth, in no particular order, my subjective reasons for being optimistic for the coming year.
1. A Step Towards Safe Travel
The World Economic Forum and The Commons Project Foundation, together with The Airports Council International (ACI), are launching CommonPass. This is a health pass that lets individuals demonstrate their COVID status while protecting their data privacy. Aruba, a country that relies on travel and tourism for its economy, has become the first country to require CommonPass for entry. Airlines in the network, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, are set to begin roll-out of CommonPass to passengers in December from New York, Boston, London and Hong Kong.
2. The Environment
President-elect Joe Biden will recommit the U.S. to the Paris Climate Agreement, the global pact forged five years ago among nearly 200 nations to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Nearly every country in the world is part of the agreement. Of the 195 countries that signed the agreement, 189 countries officially adopted the accord, and no other country besides the U.S. has abandoned it. The U.S. is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China and is seen as key in the global effort to reduce the effects of climate change. China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2060, and the European Union has vowed to go carbon neutral by 2050.
The World Economic Forum estimates business opportunities associated with collaborative platforms for climate initiatives could create over $3 trillion of additional annual revenues and create 117 million jobs globally by 2030. President-elect Biden’s team has outlined a $2 trillion economic plan to create jobs by investing in a transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, cut carbon emissions from electric power to zero by 2035 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
3. A Return to Community
In the midst of the pandemic, people found unity in singing from their balconies, millions of us clapped from our windows and in the streets, and an army of volunteers helped the most vulnerable in our society.
Many local TV news broadcasts still retain a ‘making a difference‘ slot to highlight positive work in the community eight months after the initial lockdown began.
We can take great optimism from the way businesses and communities are rallying to protect the most vulnerable. There has been a surge in people donating to local food banks and looking out for their neighbors and elderly relatives, and this shows no sign of ending.
4. Time to Buy a Home
Interest rates are projected to stay low. In the latest projections from Freddie Mac, interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage are expected to remain at or near 3 percent next year. These low rates will continue to make home ownership more affordable, making 2021 a good time to buy a home, and thus helping the U.S. economy by driving demand for housing, furniture, home improvements and appliance purchases.
5. Better Long-Term Health
COVID-19 has revealed the systemic health inequities among minority groups in the U.S. Inequities in the social determinants of health, such as poverty and health care access, contribute to a range of quality-of-life and poor health outcomes for these groups. Diabetes, obesity and heart conditions have been underlying conditions that contributed to the high numbers of COVID-19 deaths in minority communities. In the wake of the pandemic, the requirement to achieve health equity for all Americans has been identified as a societal goal to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to be as healthy as possible.
Congress has passed legislation in response to COVID-19 that provides new resources to support access to healthcare. States also are taking action to enhance access to health coverage and services through Medicaid and more broadly. This is a small, though significant step. More investment is needed. Now that this issue is identified, improving long-term health is being addressed.
For these reasons, I see 2021 as a year for optimism.
What are your reasons?