Where do we go from here?

By |2020-08-24T08:36:32+00:00August 24th, 2020|Biodiversity, Community, Deeper Thinking, Discussion, Education, Synchronicity Earth Events|Comments Off on Where do we go from here?

The profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our health, economies and societies has stimulated much discussion around what can be done to ‘build back better’ and what a ’new normal’ might look like. 

For the second in our Deeper Thinking webinar series, we invited nine speakers from diverse sectors, communities and generations to tell us – in the light of their experience of COVID-19 – what they think we need to leave behind and what we should develop and take forward. 

Alnoor Ladha  is an activist, radical systems thinker, of Sufi origin, and is devoted to changing inequality and climate change. He is the Executive Director of The Rules, and on the Boards of Greenpeace International USA and Culture Hack.

Jessica and Adam Sweidan, Synchronicity Earth founders, were our hosts on the day

Caroline Haas is the Head of Sustainable Finance at NatWest. She has volumes of experience in the education sector, being a Governor of a primary school, and sitting on numerous other philanthropic and development boards.

Dr Citlalli Morelos-Juarez began working in the Ecuadorian Choco, one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth, in 2011 after applying to do a PhD at the University of Sussex. Originally from Mexico, Tali fell in love with the forest and moved to Ecuador where she is now Field Manager of Jocotoco’s Tesoro Escondido Reserve.

Kresse Wesling is a multi-award-winning environmental entrepreneur and Young Global Leader with a background in venture capital. She is obsessed with waste and is an alchemist – turning firehose and leather discards into objects of beauty.

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is an artist examining our fraught relationships with nature and technology. Through artworks, writing, and curatorial projects, Daisy’s work explores subjects as diverse as artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, conservation, biodiversity, and evolution, as she investigates the human impulse to “better” the world. Daisy exhibits internationally and is a resident at Somerset House Studios, London.

Samuel Nnah Ndobe is an agronomist from Cameroon and a leading advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples. Through his extensive experience working in Central and West Africa with a range of organisations, including IUCN, Global GreenGrants Fund, UNDP, Rainforest Foundation Norway among others, Samuel’s experience and knowledge has been invaluable in helping us to develop a robust and successful programme in the Congo Basin.

Satish Kumar is an Indian British activist, author and editor. He has been a Jain monk, a nuclear disarmament advocate, and he has walked 8,000 miles on a peace pilgrimage. Satish is the founder of Schumacher College and the current editor of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine.

Dr Amanda Vincent has been a driving force for ocean conservation for more than three decades, anchored in her speciality of seahorses. She was the first person to study these extraordinary animals underwater and in 1996 she co-founded Project Seahorse, a conservation organisation that works to save seahorses by finding solutions for coastal marine ecosystems. This year Amanda – who still directs Project Seahorse – won the world’s most prestigious award in animal conservation, the Indianapolis Prize, becoming the first person to win the award for ocean conservation.

Princess-Joy Emeanuwa is a 17-year-old nature activist, Ambassador and Young Trustee for UK charity, Action for Conservation, which inspires and advocates for young people to become the next generation of conservation heroes.

 

 

Listen to the second in our Deeper Thinking 2020 webinar series ‘Take it or Leave it: where we go from here, and other (wild) ideas’

What would you like to leave behind?

Some common threads emerged: several of our panel described how COVID-19 has shone a light on humanity’s increasing disconnection from the natural world and underscored the arrogance of our relationship to nature. Satish Kumar put it simply: “Humans are not superior to nature, we can’t conquer nature and it doesn’t exist just for our benefit.”

For Citlalli Morelos-Juarez, the pandemic has been a very loud wake-up call for humanity. “We are not separate from nature: too often we have forgotten our connections to nature.” Citlalli went on to describe how “our toxic relationship with nature is shown in our ignorance of where our food and water come from.”

Kresse Wesling reminded us that disconnection from the natural world does not only apply at the level of the individual – it has also been institutionalised. This lack of connection with the natural world runs through many of our institutions: our education system, the long and complex supply chains behind most of the products we buy.

“We’ve forgotten that we’re a part of nature – instead of in control of nature – and that’s because all of the institutions we’ve built, we’ve built to separate us from nature.” – Kresse Wesling

Our disconnection from nature has become institutionalised, with long, opaque supply chains separating us from the impact we are having on the natural world. Image: Shutterstock

Caroline Haas gave a very practical example of something we need to leave behind. “Business travel, when you look at it, is a complete waste of time and resources, and from an environmental point of view it is very detrimental.” While acknowledging the importance of meeting people in person and the potential implications of a reduction in air travel for the industry and jobs, she stressed that it really should not be necessary “at the drop of a hat to fly around the world for an hour long business meeting.”

For Amanda Vincent, the pandemic has again shown our tendency to simply ignore the devastating damage we are doing to our planet, particularly to the ocean. “Among its many ravages, COVID-19 has largely confirmed that we are ignoring the ocean, ocean wildlife and ocean people and with terrible consequences.”

“We just haven’t figured out that balance between exploitation and conservation, between production and sustainability.” – Amanda Vincent

According to Samuel Nnah Ndobe, we will be able to find this balance if start listening to indigenous peoples, custodians of the land. For too long we have ignored the warnings that nature and those that know it best have been giving us. If we fail to listen to indigenous voices, we will continue on down this reckless path.