It is time to pledge for our future
The COVID pandemic, devastating fires in Australia, Siberia and California, floods in India and the UK - we are facing huge environmental challenges, which threaten our security and well-being.
Meanwhile, WWF’s most recent Living Planet Report indicates that populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have dropped by an average of 68% since 1970. Species are going extinct at unprecedented rates, predominantly due to unsustainable production and consumption. More alarmingly still, a recent United Nations report has revealed that none of the twenty Global Biodiversity Targets set ten years ago has been met. As Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the head of the United Nations Convention of Biological Diversity has stated, “Earth’s living systems as a whole are being compromised. And the more humanity exploits nature in unsustainable ways and undermines its contributions to people, the more we undermine our own well-being, security and prosperity”.
Is there an option for an alternative pathway, to a future where people and nature can thrive together?
Scientists have recently outlined what is needed to bend the curve on the destruction of nature: we know what needs to be done to turn things around. However, as David Attenborough said in his recent documentary ‘Extinction: The facts’: “What happens next, is up to every one of us”. Or to quote Ms Mrema, “the decisions and level of action we take now will have profound consequences - for good or ill - for all species, including ours”.
With pledgeforourfuture.earth we would like to act on these statements, by uniting people across the world towards resetting our relationship with nature. We - as global citizens, consumers, parents, children, workers, community members and voters - can make a positive impact through our personal choices and by making our voices heard to national and global decision-makers. However, we can’t do this individually; we need to come together and push for action. The time to act is now.
The aim of pledgeforourfuture.earth is to act as a platform where people from across the world can come together, make a public pledge to take action, and by doing so, create momentum for change at scale. The platform takes you through a three-stage journey:
- First, you can read the pledge itself and add your voice by signing up.
- Second, you can commit to specific changes or actions which contribute towards a more sustainable future (with help from our inspiration and resources, if you would like that). These might include things to do with your own lifestyle choices, they might include spreading the word to family and friends or joining community initiatives, or they might include joining larger movements for global change.
- Third, you can report back on your successes and failures, and share experiences with others, to keep track of your impact and keep moving towards more positive change.
No matter where you come from, what you do for a living, what language you speak, you can do something to bring about positive change. If you’re stuck, it may be useful to think about the ‘4steps4theearth’:
- REFRAIN: from activities that are harmful to nature. For example, perhaps you can refrain from needlessly cutting down vegetation or avoid buying single-use plastics or move your savings out of environmentally destructive funds.
- REDUCE: harmful activities that you can avoid. For example, maybe you can reduce throwing away food or cut down on car journeys.
- RESTORE: nature where it has been harmed. For example, you may be able to remove trash from your environment or plant native trees or donate to these kinds of activities.
- RENEW: nature by transforming your own and other people’s relationships with nature. For example, you could talk to your friends and family about what nature does and how we can help, or join a community sustainability initiative, or get involved in national and global movements for positive transformation.
But if these ideas don’t work for you, that is completely fine too! You know what works for you. pledgeforourfuture.earth gives everyone the opportunity to make their voices and actions heard - and in any language because pledgeforourfuture.earth is available in many different ones. We encourage people to communicate in the language they are most comfortable with.
When an interviewer asked the late British ecologist and conservation scientist Georgina Mace in January 2019 about possible signs that the loss of biodiversity is reaching a point where there are serious consequences for our future, she said: “I think the most immediate signs we would see would be epidemics affecting people or crops that we are simply unable to control - we’ve either lost the diversity of species or genes that lets us adapt to them”.
So humanity is now at a cross-roads: we can continue as usual, with more pandemics, extinctions and natural disasters on the horizon, or we can work together to reset our relationship with nature. The time to act is now. Visit pledgeforourfuture.earth and make your choice.
About the authors:
This idea for pledgeforourfuture.earth was conceived by Professor E.J. Milner-Gulland, Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford, and implemented by an international team of conservation academics and professionals. Some of the people most heavily involved in bringing this initiative to life are: Hollie Booth, Ravi Chellam, Dhruv Gangadharan, Mirjam Hazenbosch, Munib Khanyari, Varnita Mathur, Helen Newing, Carlyn Samuel, Claudio Sillero, Jon Taylor, Pradeep Thoma.
The website was made by a team at the Metastring Foundation, led by Varnita Mathur, and the logo was designed by Manini Bansal.
However, this story is not about the people who set up this platform: it is about all of us.