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Five things we must achieve as the environmental movement turns 50

Five things we must achieve as the environmental movement turns 50

The multiple crises that are developing around the world provide ample motivation for international leaders to commit to serious change.

The war in Ukraine is wreaking havoc, but it’s also producing a growing energy and food catastrophe, which we let to happen by relying on gas, oil, and monocrops. The pandemic’s aftereffects are currently being felt around the world. Meanwhile, the triple planetary catastrophe of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, pollution, and waste — the triple planetary crisis – is already wreaking havoc on people’s health and finances, with the potential for much more to come. It is self-evident that we have mismanaged our society and economies. Starting with Stockholm+50, something has to change.

Stockholm+50 commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, which is widely regarded as the birthplace of the modern environmental movement. Of all, the first meeting wasn’t simply about the environment. It was about how environmental harm hinders development and promotes poverty, and how reducing poverty is crucial to alleviating environmental harm.

Stockholm+50 is about much more than the environment. It’s about how preserving the environment can assist the globe to accomplish its long-term development goals. So now is the time to reimagine and construct a more equitable economic system, reinvent the systems that have contributed to environmental degradation, and build a global community that allows everyone to enjoy a healthy and fair life. Here are five suggestions for how we may do this over the next 50 years, beginning with a political commitment to act at Stockholm+50.

Get real about the energy transition

We cannot rely on fossil fuels indefinitely, and we must also address energy poverty. 759 million people live without power, while 2.6 billion rely on toxic cookstoves and fuels. The solution is to switch to renewable energy while both improving energy efficiency and expanding energy access. The costs of renewable energy are lower than those of fossil fuels. However, just because proven technologies exist does not guarantee that they will be adopted by the market. Markets will only move if government policies are good and there is a lot more investment. Similarly, countries have a variety of resources, including wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower. It’s all about horses for courses, with international collaboration and multilateralism bolstering efforts to connect networks and build cross-border transmission lines, as well as off-grid energy options.

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Move from the ‘cowboy economy’ to the ‘spaceman economy’

Kenneth Boulding, an economist, was the first to propose these ideas in 1966. The goal is to start acting like astronauts on a spaceship with limited resources, rather than cowboys in the Wild West who would exhaust the resources in a given area before moving on. After all, save for a few billionaires, no one is leaving this planet — and even they are just going into space for a brief visit.

How are we going to accomplish this? Natural-hazards-related concerns can be reported and addressed by businesses (more on this later). Consumers can make informed judgments based on the impact of their purchases on the natural world that sustains them. We have the ability to boost our investments in nature. Importantly, including nature into every economic decision would make us environmental stewards, with the understanding that the economy’s health is based on the health of nature.

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Universally recognize the human right to a clean and healthy environment

The right to a clean and healthy environment is important because it obligates governments, corporations, and institutions to respect, defend, and implement it. Enforcing this right could have a significant impact. It has the potential to minimize pollution, which has a negative impact on human health and is a considerable cost to healthcare systems. It has the potential to safeguard environmentalists and Indigenous peoples against retaliation. It has the potential to make our cities more livable by establishing “20-minute neighborhoods” where residents may walk or cycle to any of their basic necessities in under 20 minutes. Providing assurance

Use digital technologies and open data to enable environmental sustainability

People, governments, and corporations may use digital technologies to make more sustainable decisions. As a basis for decision-making, this will necessitate making environmental data transparent and accessible. It will necessitate the creation of new digital product passports in order to measure the environmental footprint of products and services across their supply chains. It will necessitate significant financial efforts to ensure that digital technologies benefit everyone. In the end, we’ll need to bring the digital and sustainability transitions together.

Create financial systems that are aligned with the health of the planet

Only efforts that benefit the planet and, by extension, humanity should be funded by financial systems. Because you can’t have financial stability without planetary stability, central banks and regulators should have a planetary and climatic stability mission. Climate threats are causing financial hazards, which regulators are beginning to recognize. We are in the early stages, with increased disclosure of climate-related financials. Regulators should instead invite market participants to set net-zero targets with concrete plans and timetables. This is about more than just carbon. Simultaneously, targets such as “no net loss of biodiversity” and “no pollution of the environment” should be incorporated into the financial system.

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These and other ideas, which will be shared during Stockholm+50, have the potential to revolutionize our societies and economies so that we can live in peace with nature. This will not eliminate the war, but it will lessen the triggers for war by bringing prosperity to a larger number of people. This will not prevent pandemics, but it will lower the likelihood of them occurring and the consequences if they do. This won’t make the world a place where everyone has what they want when they want it – but it will reduce poverty, increase equity and opportunity, and ensure that future generations inherit a livable planet. Humans, as stated in the Stockholm Declaration, are both creatures and molders of the environment. It is now our responsibility to shape our society and economies in such a way that the environment remains healthy, vibrant, and capable of supporting all of us.


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