Opinion

A youth pledge on forest’s day

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Every minute, forest areas of the size of 50 soccer fields are lost.
Every minute, every day.

Today, March 21st 2018, we celebrate the International Day of Forests. Ever since 2013, this date calls for global awareness on the degrading state of forests worldwide. It takes only one day in our calendars for us to remember how dependent mankind’s survival is on the  lungs of the planet.

With the current rate of deforestation, there will be no forests left within the next 100 years. The loss, degradation and conversion of forests threaten our survival.

“We are on the verge of destroying the perfect balance that nature has created for the wellbeing of human beings. Halting deforestation is not about saving the planet , it’s about ensuring the human well-being. The Earth will survive us and has done so for 4.5 billion years, she is much older and wiser.
– Christiana Figueres (Former UNFCC Executive Secretary, 2018)

Certainly, once forests or green shelters and sources of life are lost, services and goods provided by nature also disappear. The maintenance of human well-being is then a question of time: how long can we survive with a degrading nature around us? Certain regions of the world already know the devastating answer.

Photos by Carla Madueño

We can stop thinking drama, and start thinking solutions

Today, we must talk about hope and urgency put into action. And there are certain actors and voices out there that I would like to remind you of today: Youth.

On the international day of forests, I want to send a big call to Youth around the globe teaching us every day how to stand on our young feet for a forest-friendly society.

  • Youth teaches us that warriors can all have all ages, since what really matters is the strength of the own conviction.
  • Youth teaches us that they are real cultural and intergenerational bridges that catalyze people’s fears and challenges.
  • Youth teaches us that inclusive dialogue and participation is possible and necessary.
  • And among all, youth helps people recover relations with the forests.

Youth is key in healing a broken world, through intergenerational reconciliation.

If you don’t believe youth can be an empowering and strong ally to protect forests, here are some examples:

Planting trees with only 9 years old: Back in 2007, a 9-year old German boy Felix Finkbeiner inspired by a school assignment imagined children planting 1 million trees in every country on Earth. His movement spreaded quickly throughout Germany and the Globe and by 2011 achieved with the help of other children planting a total of 1 million trees around the world.

Two sisters from Bali banned plastic from entire island: The Wijsen sisters from Bali are the living example that empowered and determined youth can solve the plastic pollution challenge. The young sisters, Melati and Isabel, successfully campaigned 4 years to get plastic bags banned from the Bali island. Indonesia is the 2nd largest plastic polluter in the world, after China.

“If we could meet with world leaders and speak to them, we would tell them to listen more to the youth, consider us as more than just inspiration. We have bright innovative ideas of how to deal with some of the greatest issues of our time”
– Wijsen sisters

Leave the smartphone, reconnect with your closest forest

May our decisions enlighten not a brighter future, but a greener present. Science and politics talk about changes to be carried out by 2030, 2050 or next millenia to protect forests. I believe that we simply cannot wait for decades to solve our greatest challenges.

On March 21st 2018, we stand for a change – now and not tomorrow.

Today, take a moment off, go to the closest forest or green space in your city, your village or town. Think about the impacts of your lifestyle, reconnect with nature, discover life beyond human beings and beyond the concrete jungle.

Meditate on the lives on the other side of the smartphone. Celebrate the hidden, still unknown and sheltered life in our green forests (and outside the scope of the International Day of Forest, celebrate also life in our blue oceans).

Stop thinking drama,
Start thinking solutions,
Stand up for forest protection
Empower Youth as forest warriors.

 

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