Leave no one behind. Children carry water to their home in Lochinvar National Park, Zambia, 1995. © J. Ashley Nixon

 

Today, April 22 is International Mother Earth Day as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2019. This year’s theme, Restore our Earth resonates stronger than ever as we continue to be impacted by the health, social and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our lives and livelihoods are intimately coupled to the health of our ecosystems, whose biodiversity and ability to provide our food, water and more is increasingly being stressed by climate change, soil erosion, ocean acidification and other undesirable environmental changes.

Global cooperation

Today, April 22, the pledges made at the Leaders Summit on Climate convened by President Biden signal a positive turning point for global cooperation on climate action. The US has committed to reducing its emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030. Prime Minister Trudeau announced that Canada is “now on track to blow past our old target” and cut back emissions to 40-45 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels of CO2e. Even Brazil President Bolsonaro stepped away from his previously negative stance on climate action to pledge an end to illegal deforestation by 2030, although there is much still to do there.

Shifting to a sustainable economy

That audacious shift in policy will only be possible if other countries support and/or cajole conservation efforts in the Amazon. The latest daily average reading for CO2 concentration on the planet (416 ppm) coming from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii is a sharp reminder that we have no time to lose in shifting to a sustainable economy that works for the people and the planet.

Restore our Earth. Leave no one behind!

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