In recent weeks we have been faced with an unprecedented public health and social challenge. A challenge that has forced us to radically change our way of life and to reflect both on how fragile we are, and on the impact we have on the planet we inhabit. The only one we have.
As we approach – hopefully – the long-awaited full recovery, we must learn the lesson that the pandemic has taught us and try to exploit the current consciousness to focus on another crucial issue that has been temporarily shelved, and yet is so deeply interconnected with the crisis we are experiencing: climate change.
Covid-19 has opened our eyes to the previously underestimated importance of health, in terms of both the health of the individual and as a true collective asset. The planet has been sending us clear signals in recent years: extreme weather events compounded by climate change have hit half a million victims worldwide in the last 20 years, and forecasts are equally pessimistic for the coming decades.
Rising temperatures, plastics in the sea and air pollution have real repercussions on our health. It would be a serious mistake therefore, at this very difficult time, not to take the opportunity to reflect more broadly on our relationship with nature, as a concept that is doubly bound to public health.
Not surprisingly, at the beginning of the year – before the outbreak of the pandemic – the World Health Organization had awarded first place in the ranking of the greatest health issues for the new decade to the climate emergency.
Our seas and oceans also greatly affect our lives, everything that harms them ends up harming our health.
This is why the One Ocean Foundation is renewing its call for companies, associations, the scientific community and citizens to respect the planet and find a shared vocation in safeguarding it. Just as in the midst of the pandemic we learned to respect each other – wearing masks and gloves and observing social distancing – we must learn to respect the planet.
While the virus may have caught us unprepared, we still have time to combat the environmental and climate emergency.
Taking care of the health of our ecosystem is essential from an environmental point of view, but also from a social and economic point of view when we consider how important natural resources are for the development of many businesses.
Companies today have the opportunity, and the responsibility, to rethink their production models in light of a sustainable idea of profit, to raise the bar on environmental standards, taking that extra step forward now that will prevent us from being two steps back tomorrow.
Some have already grasped the seriousness of this environmental emergency, and the urgency with which we are called upon to act, and have been motivated to build a better post-Covid world, through innovative and sustainable production strategies. But there is still a lot to do.
Economic development combined with environmental sustainability can no longer be an abstract notion, and must be translated into concrete undertakings.
Because protecting the environment also involves preventing future nightmarish pandemic scenarios like the one we are experiencing, and which none of us want to live through again.
Vice President, One Ocean Foundation