California has this year seen the largest forest fires on record. The smoke, whipped up by the flames, made it impossible for people to go outside without harming their lungs. Yet, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meeting friends and family inside, and away from the smoke, risked catching the disease. Despite living in the richest state in the most powerful country in the world, its citizens were stuck, caught between two globally systemic crises – a spreading fire amongst a spreading virus.

This type of Catch-22 situation is not new for many around the world, particularly those in the Global South, who have long had to navigate the harsh realities of a broken international financial system and climate breakdown. The same month that fires raged in the USA, Bangladesh suffered the heaviest rainfalls in a decade, leaving a third of the country underwater. In the words of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ‘Bangladesh is trying to save lives, shore up healthcare systems, and cushion the economic shock for millions of people, all while avoiding fiscal collapse. But this is not a cry for help; it is a warning.’1

Whether it’s rehousing millions of displaced people in Bangladesh, or injecting trillions into the global economy to keep things afloat during the pandemic, the costs of these crises will continue to mount. As the debts rise, many will be asking, “Who is going to pay for all this?

Read this interesting report by Ben Tippet, TNI