By Jagoda Munic, director,
Friends of the Earth Europe
Open any news site right
now, and it is hard not to feel completely overwhelmed. With the majority of
the world’s population in an unprecedented global lock-down, and the continued
grim spread of coronavirus infections and casualties, these are truly scary
times the likes of which we have never known.
They are also showing us
the strength of human solidarity and compassion.
Waves of solidarity
This coronavirus crisis is
unleashing waves of solidarity and community action.
In the middle of
adversity, we see neighbours and strangers caring for each other. Volunteers
are getting together online and offline to provide support, to babysit for
healthcare workers, to pick up shopping for those at risk in isolation, to set
up telephone friendship groups. An energy cooperative raised £100,000 for relief efforts;
former doctors and nurses are returning to hospitals to help; cooking
collectives are preparing meals for refugees and homeless people; people have
been donating to baskets for those who can’t afford food.
Mutual aid and bonding initiatives have
sprung up out of people’s care for one another.
We are inspired by
the many stories of community support and solidarity in these dark times.
The power of communities to work together is key to the response now and should
be supported in the recovery effort!https://t.co/VBF8v1qZXb
— Friends of the Earth (@foeeurope) April 3, 2020
Coronavirus reveals role
of essential service workers
Coronavirus reminds us
that it is ordinary workers who hold many things together.
More than ever, we are
aware of the people in caring professions and essential services, working for
others. And of the importance of access to healthcare and our public
And more than ever we are
appreciating the work of many people in poorly paid jobs including shop
cashiers, farm workers, cleaners and waste collectors, to mention a few, whose
role has also gone undervalued for too long.
We shall continue to
applaud them from balconies, but beyond that we should be ready to stand with
them in demanding decent working conditions. And we should be ready to fight to
make sure the people already at the bottom do not lose out
in the predicted upcoming recession.
Coronavirus reveals the
importance of resilient, healthy ecosystems
Epidemics and diseases have been shown to be related to the
destruction of natural forests and other land use changes, the
increase in factory farms packing livestock close together, the illegal trade
in wild animals, and invasive species that carry microbes into new habitats.
Added to that, our economies have been built around being highly mobile, living
in densely populated cities, and over-consuming products from fast-moving,
complex global supply chains.
In other words, we have created the perfect conditions for viruses to
– and to create maximum disruption.
We must reconsider our
relationship with nature - restore ecosystems and biodiversity, end factory
farms, and create more resilient, localised models of production to avoid
future pandemics and to live in harmony, not competition, with the natural
This is not a just
Satellite images and data
have shown striking improvements in air quality and reduced emissions during lock-down. There
are also anecdotal observations of wildlife reclaiming abandoned spaces, baby
turtles hatching on emptied beaches. But let’s be clear,
there is nothing to celebrate here.
Though nature can
temporarily quickly rebound, this coronavirus crisis is a human
catastrophe costing many thousands of lives and inordinate disruption to
Coronavirus is not what a
just transition to more sustainable societies looks like. Emissions cuts and
biodiversity restoration will only be sustainable if achieved in a planned and
managed way with social justice at its core – putting workers and communities
a disaster for humanity. There is no silver lining in the temporary climate
emissions reductions that have resulted".
Here's why Coronavirus is NOT good news for the environment: https://t.co/3RPwIXr5zk pic.twitter.com/lNANjQWKyg
— Friends of the Earth Scotland
(@FoEScot) March 31, 2020
Let’s build back greener
There will be an after
corona. How we build back and repair our broken economies is a choice.
After the last economic
crisis, European governments doubled-down on neoliberalism – imposing austerity
and bailing out big banks and industries. The result was run-down public
services, eroded democracy, environmental degradation, hideous inequality, and unsustainable
economies vulnerable to shocks.
This time, the planet
cannot afford the same mistake. Because people have suffered enough, and we
don’t have another decade to halt runaway climate crisis and biodiversity
This time, let’s choose to
build back more resilient, equal, greener, and more caring economies. Instead of supporting big
polluting industries, let’s support people most impacted, and focus on quality
services and good, safe and sustainable jobs for all. With quality low-energy
buildings and public transport, locally controlled low-resource models of
production, and a robust and sustainable food system.
Instead of canceling the EU Green Deal (as some lobbyists are advocating), let’s double down
on transformational policies, investment in sustainable solutions, and the just
transition. This would not only enable economic recovery, but put us on the
path towards just and sustainable societies.
Coronavirus would be a
double tragedy if we return to business as usual afterwards. But if we hold
on to the values of solidarity and care, we have the chance to build a better
world and societies better able to weather the storms of the future.
Together we are
Across the world Friends of the Earth groups are responding to #COVID19
with solidarity, care and justice! https://t.co/h2PB2ZDxNT
— Friends of the Earth (@FoEint) March 27, 2020