Philadelphia’s role in a global, just and unified recovery

By Robert McNeill, Chair of Global Philadelphia Association, Deloitte’s Managing Partner for Greater Philadelphia and Zabeth Teelucksingh, Executive Director of Global Philadelphia Association

Published by the Philadelphia Business Journal

Mar 1, 2021

As the nation’s birthplace, Philadelphia is the nucleus of American democracy. That singular heritage combined with the city’s rising global profile creates a powerful engine for rallying our region’s diverse community for the work that must be done to steward economic recovery amidst an enduring pandemic, pursue racial justice that is generations overdue, and restore faith that a unified America is possible once more.

At this moment in history, we stand at a crossroads as to how Philadelphians proceed on these fronts: we can either retreat from the world community or we can embrace a world view to support recovery efforts and sustainable progress toward healing and equality. To preserve the essence of what it means to be a Philadelphian and what an international perspective means for our city and region, we must choose to act and move forward.

In this spirit, Philadelphia and its organizations, including Global Philadelphia Association (GPA), focused on international development, to advance the global connections central to Philadelphia’s future. Our increasing world status stems from our collaborative efforts to promote international consciousness across the region, execute a strategy to enhance our global profile, and showcase the importance of all heritages and perspectives.

That’s why, for instance, it is not enough to address the virus within our city limits; we must collaborate with our fellow World Heritage Cities and international peers to ensure it is eradicated around the globe. Part of this work is about raising pride for Philadelphia’s medical legacy here and around the world. Our medical heritage is a history of national firsts: first general hospital, first medical school, first medical library, and so on. Philadelphians have also helped to spearhead the nation’s response to past health crises, including yellow fever, polio, influenza, and HIV/AIDS. The Covid-19 pandemic will be one in a long line of medical challenges that we have not only faced locally but nationally by contributing to global protocols and solutions.

We must also work as a world community in pursuit of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG); the UN is currently promoting 17 very specific aims that address such issues as poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. Progress in pockets of the globe can be enhanced by the recovery that other nations experience, and that is true whether those nations share borders or international air routes.

GPA is working to localize the United Nations’ goals on several fronts. Perhaps most visually by commissioning five original artistic murals to be located at 17th and the Parkway, St Joseph’s University, Temple University and Drexel University’s Academy of Natural Sciences. Each mural will celebrate a specific UN SDG, including gender equality, quality education for all, climate action, reduced inequalities and zero poverty.

As a business professional or community leader, you can help GPA further its mission by supporting the Philadelphia Sustainable Development Goals campaign, which is working to locally activate the UN’s 17 objectives. For more information, contact Zabeth Teelucksingh at [email protected] or 215-563-2482.