A message from our CEO, Kirsty Schneeberger
April 22nd marks the 50th anniversary of the first ever Earth Day, though you’d be forgiven if this news had passed you by. With the world under the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic, like most people, our focus at Synchronicity Earth has been firmly on the health of not just our families, friends, and colleagues, but also on the health and well-being of our partners across the world.
One thing emerging from conversations with many of our conservation partners around the world is the diversity of the challenges that Covid-19 brings with it. The impacts of the disease are felt in myriad ways.
At Synchronicity Earth, all our current efforts are geared towards supporting our partners as they face unprecedented challenges: the practical difficulties of continuing on-the-ground work, such as species monitoring and tracking, or rehabilitating animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade; suspension of education programmes, planning workshops and community meetings; cancellation or postponement of advocacy work at national and international level – the list goes on.
Lockdowns in many countries mean that staff are often unable to leave their homes. Unlike many of us in the UK, staff at our partner organisations do not always have easy access to internet and mobile phone credit, nor a steady source of income to pay for food and essential goods. Protective equipment and medical supplies are often extremely scarce or non-existent.
While the full health impact of Covid-19 has yet to be felt in many countries of the global South, its impact on livelihoods and economies is already taking its toll. We recognise that much of the work we are currently providing grants for is being disrupted and may well need to be delayed as a consequence. Indeed, some of the work might have to change substantially in light of these impacts. We thank all of you for understanding this likely disruption and will continue to keep you updated.
Despite all of this, we remain hopeful and determined.
Our support for ground-up, community-led conservation means that many partners we provide grants for are in a good position to work effectively with civil society and local and indigenous communities: they can disseminate vital information about the virus, help to organise support for isolated communities and play their part in providing a response where existing mechanisms may simply be overwhelmed or incapable of providing such a response.
We are buoyed by the strong and long-term relationships we have developed with our partners over the years, and confident in our ability to be flexible, to understand their immediate needs and provide assistance where we can to ensure that they and their staff stay healthy and are able to maintain their core operations. Meanwhile, in the conversations we have had with donors and supporters, we have been immensely grateful for their understanding and willingness to do whatever they can to help our partners to continue their vital work.
While the world grapples with its response to this unprecedented global crisis, the underlying challenges facing us remain. Indeed, many would argue that this crisis is a stark reminder that the relationship between humans and nature is broken and in need of urgent attention. More than ever, we can start to see that human health is dependent on planetary health: as long as we continue to put the latter in jeopardy, the impacts on human health will only get worse. Disease outbreaks, land clearance, loss of vital ecosystems, antibiotic resistance, pollution and, of course, climate change are just some of the threats we are facing: we need to get better at joining the dots and working across sectors, disciplines and geographies to come up with responses that match the scale of the challenges.
Our Spotlight annual review of 2019 highlights some of the extraordinary individuals and organisations we support who are united by a common purpose: to protect and cherish the natural world. Our hope is that, if you are able to read some or all of these stories, you will see why our key goal in this difficult time is to support all our partners to look after themselves and their communities and to come out stronger the other side.
Covid-19 is a reminder of how connected we all are. What happens on the other side of the world matters, to all of us. It shines a light on the extraordinary networks which many of us in the West, in particular, are plugged into, often without realising. It highlights the fragility of those networks. But it also shows what people and communities can do, when they work together.
We would like to extend our sincere thanks to all of you for your continued support of our work during this time. We hugely appreciate your understanding as, inevitably, planned work needs to adapt, or be postponed, and funding needs to be redirected towards providing for the immediate core needs of our partners.
In due course, once the immediate threats to health have subsided, and while we all get to grips with the economic aftershocks, we will join the dialogue swirling around the bigger questions: why should we go back to ‘business as usual’? What part can we all play in creating the future we really want to be a part of? How can we best be part of an end to destructive wildlife trade, both legal and illegal? How can we all better understand the connections between our way of life, our economic, social and political models, our cultures, and what is happening to the natural world?
So yes, Earth Day may not be at the forefront of all our minds this year, but as the shadow of Covid-19 starts to lift, we are committed to emerging from this crisis with renewed determination to work towards a healthier planet, where people and nature can thrive.
For now, we urge you to stay safe, enjoy our Spotlight and do please contact us to learn more about how we are responding and helping our partners, or if you would like to contribute in any way towards our efforts to help them at this difficult time.