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RSB’s team in the time of coronavirus: Arianna Baldo

RSB’s global team are used to working remotely, but we are all making adjustments to respond to the changing situations we find ourselves in. With team members in 8 countries we thought we’d take the opportunity to introduce you to everyone and let them tell you a bit about what they’re working on and how COVID-19 is affecting their everyday lives.

Arianna Baldo, RSB’s Lead for Africa/Middle East & Strategic Projects, based in South Africa:

The fast, global escalation of the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences on everyday life – limitation of personal freedom by governments, border closures, oil prices dropping below zero, the eerie feeling of walking in a deserted city – are nothing short of a science-fiction movie. The reality is however showing us that we are vulnerable, deeply interconnected with each other, nature and the climate, and dependent on a truly global economy made of mostly non-essential ‘stuff’ and services (although we miss these things dearly).

As an Italian living in South Africa for over a decade, I have been worrying for both the personal health of my family in Italy, and the economic health of my host country. We have been in a strict lockdown for almost 5 weeks in South Africa, with the country very slowly relaxing measures from May 1st to allow the economy to restart, and people to work. I have been impressed by the solidarity shown by South Africans, who have contributed or set up feeding schemes for the poor, and the government which has pledged a relief package of 10% of national GDP to support businesses, job retention and the poor.

I have also been amused by witnessing those around me (including my partner!) adapting to remote working set ups, while feeling so lucky that RSB has an incredibly sophisticated remote working set-up that allows us to be 100% productive wherever we are located in the world. However, the one adjustment I had to make was being able to meet work deadlines with a cheeky 2 year old roaming the house, but this has definitely created unforgettable family memories (and a few ‘breakdowns’!).

I hope this period is teaching us that we should not take things for granted, but rather help each other in need; treat ecosystems ethically and sustainably; and invest in scientific progress to ensure our health and survival.

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