A major United Nations report has characterised humanity’s relationship with the planet as a war and called for a fundamental reset in order to secure a prosperous and sustainable future for us all.
The report, called Making Peace with Nature, has been published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Its focus is the triple threat the world faces: the climate crisis, the devastation of wildlife and nature, and the pollution that causes millions of early deaths every year.
In his Foreword to the report, Antonio Guterres, the UN’s secretary-general, opens with the words: “Humanity is waging war on nature.” The result, he says, is a “broken planet”. But the report also offers hope for a better future, alongside the depressing description of the current crisis. Part II is entitled ‘Transforming humankind’s relationship with nature is the key to a sustainable future’.
It is a huge report, long on jargon and academese as well as on detail. It is addressed, in part, to governments, to intergovernmental organisations, to global financial and business actors, and to others who bestride the world stage.
All of which can make it seem a world apart from the everyday lives of ordinary people and thus all the easier to dismiss. But it isn’t a world apart, of course. It is the same interconnected world that we are all part of, and the catastrophic failings it documents will ultimately affect us all. We cannot afford to do nothing.
The report’s final section is headed: ‘All actors have a part to play in transforming humankind‘s relationship with nature’. To prove the point, the report’s authors even devote a section (on page 140 of the full report, reproduced on page 39 of the executive summary document) to “individuals, households” and others in civil society.
There we find, for example, the call to engage in initiatives that promote sustainable consumption as well as “education and citizen-science” initiatives. There we find a plea to make “climate-friendly everyday choices on transport and consumption.” And there we find encouragement to “promote the links between environment and human health.”
The key message of Making Peace with Nature accords with the UK government’s recent Dasgupta Review, which also called for an urgent reset of humanity’s relationship with nature, including greater priority for environmental education in the curriculum at all stages of learning.
The Forum for Life-Based Learning believes that we need to reform the school curriculum for young children to meet urgent life challenges. Three of its nine proposed themes — Plant Life, Animal Life and Physical World — directly address our relationship with and appreciation of the natural world. A life-based curriculum will help children adopt the skills, values and practices that ensure they live sustainable lives in harmony with the needs of the planet.
Click to read and/or download the full version of the report
Click to read and/or download the review’s main messages
Click to learn more about the life-based approach to learning
Image at the head of this article by Sergei Tokmakov, Esq. from Pixabay