At the core of the problems we seek to address are human systems that are pulling us further away from our connection with – and understanding of – nature.
This disconnection has far-reaching impacts. It is accompanied by a loss of knowledge about the need to protect the planet. We have forgotten that we are part of nature. As a result, we have inadvertently caused widespread ecosystem collapse, leading to species extinctions and human conflict. Ecological and humanitarian crises are emerging in the worst affected parts of the world. If their root cause is not addressed, scientists warn that the health and wellbeing of all people and species is at risk.
Change is desperately needed to bring human systems into better alignment with nature. International policy can – if supported and enforced – go some way to ensuring that human and planetary requirements are both met. For example, it can provide the framework for better coordinated, more equitable and less destructive food cultivation and distribution.
At present, few laws protect vulnerable species and people or ecosystems. Where such laws exist, they are often weak, disjointed or poorly enforced. Meanwhile, there are no overarching economic development frameworks that can guide all governments, companies and people towards a better understanding of their social and environmental obligations, or to an appreciation of the relationship between the two.
The law can provide such a framework, but locally-based solutions that help to reconnect people with nature, or strengthen their existing relationships are also required. These can restore ecosystem health while additionally alleviating poverty, hunger, conflict and socio- economic marginalisation.