Our relationship with nature
A relationship based on rights perishes, a relationship based on duties flourishes.
Swami Parthasarathy, philosopher
The ‘old normal’ disconnect between daily life and wildlife is one of the key problems which makes it hard for us to understand how the natural world affects us. But in some ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many of us closer to nature. Even in urban environments, many workers who are no longer commuting are noticing local wildlife in a way they have not been able to experience before. Since we are now having a shared human experience, despite the many differences between the way people are affected by the pandemic across countries, backgrounds and circumstances, each of us now has a story about how humanity’s relationship with nature has affected our day-to-day lives.
What we need to do now is to use these experiences to help humanity understand the consequences of when this relationship is not respected, and use that understanding to drive forward change, so humans and nature can recover.
“If we continue to pillage the Earth and the planet because of our perceived right, then we will soon perish but if we change that understanding to a duty and responsibility of care we can change the narrative,” said Razan.
But how can we link our shared experiences of the COVID-19 crisis to the urgent actions we need to take to restore our relationship with nature to one of duty and responsibility? With stories.
Changing the narrative
After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.
Philip Pullman, author
COVID-19 has affected us all, but in many different ways. We shared some of the stories from our partners around the globe in Same diseases, different challenges. Image: Chris Scarffe
“Disease specialists keep telling us at TRAFFIC that these diseases have come and gone before, like SARS, and people said at that point ‘things will change’. But a year and a half later, the world hadn’t changed. So we need to find a way to link these personal experiences with the big picture, and that’s the role of stories,” said Steven.
“This is not an over there problem, it’s here wherever you are. While we’re all in the same ocean experiencing this pandemic, we are in very different boats. This is an opportunity to remind our species that we are part of nature, and not at all above it,” said Razan.
The need to widen the conversations about conservation to a bigger audience than those already concerned about the biodiversity crisis was a recurring theme throughout the debate. Not just to raise awareness so there are more voices speaking out for wildlife, but also because the conservation movement can learn so much from other disciplines.
Learning from others
If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.