This letter has been written as part of the Financial Times’ ‘Letters to the New World’ brand campaign, which calls on those in our global community to inspire each other around what this new world should and could look like

The last eighteen months have taught us many things. One of the lessons that I hope we take into the future is the unparalleled power of data and visual media. This information can create the sense of urgency required to bring about rapid change on a global scale.

Take the first charts of Covid-19’s exponential spread in March 2020, which made clear what was coming to the western world. Or the images of hospitals from Italy to India that showed the human cost of unmitigated growth. Such visual information has played a central role in how we have experienced, understood and responded to a global threat.

We face enormous challenges in the coming decades, from the rapidly accelerating climate crisis to the battle against inequality. These hurdles can seem so huge and complex that we feel powerless to act.

But we have more and better tools in our arsenal than ever before. We have the data to diagnose problems and their causes, and to seek out the solutions. We can distil even the thorniest predicament into a chart whose message is singular and clear. And we have the footage that shows us what will happen if we don’t act quickly. Data visualisation speaks a thousand words in a second, and right now time is of the essence.

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