by Betsan Martin and Michael Pringle
published in The Dig platform on April 23, 2020
The COVID-19 crisis is compelling us to kick-start investment in a regenerative and zero-carbon future. We were bold enough to act quickly to stop the virus – can we now chart a course for a just recovery? Has the crisis finally made leaders, citizens, and banks bold enough to drive a transition to a more fair, sustainable, and resilient economy?
Healthy Ecosystems for Human Wellbeing
Economists and ecologists, Māori leaders, scientists, and NGO advocates are all speaking with increasing unanimity about the need for a climate and ecosystem ‘responsible’ world to emerge from this planetary pandemic. Such calls include demands for fairer housing and livelihoods, rehabilitated waterways and forests, regenerative land use, and even more participatory rangatiratanga (self-determination).
The evidence is clear that the destruction of nature and biodiversity are significant contributors to the emergence, virulence, and spread of COVID-19. In a recent piece on The Conversation – Coronavirus is a wake-up call: our war with the environment is leading to pandemics– the authors outline that “now is the time to put in place the settings for planetary health. We live in an interdependent world in which there are no borders to a virus.”
Humanity is progressively marching back the frontier between human habitation and jungle and forests for farms, plantations, and energy and mineral extraction. This and global warming are both destabilising the established cycles of previously resilient biodiverse habitats and species.
This is placing unprecedented strain on wildlife, leading to a ‘sixth mass extinction’ event, and forcing animals to move rapidly into new areas that were previously not suitable for habitation.
In this process, viruses from wild animals are increasingly interacting with food crops, and domestic animals and are seeking new hosts outside of diminishing wild animal populations. They are finding these new hosts in people – leading many scientists to warn of an increased likelihood of outbreaks of novel pathogens as our encroachment on wilderness areas continues.
Are we are serious about avoiding disaster and charting a new course for humanity in balance with the natural world? If so, we need to address the destructive patterns of land use and extractive economics leading to these interconnected crises.
So many challenges and problems are currently associated with the lockdown due to the global hygienic crisis, but adversity also brings surprising opportunities.
As food supplies in shopping malls are dwindling - due to slowdown of deliveries as a result of the lockdown, the Asian Solidarity Economy Council (ASEC) has received many requests for information, knowledge about the approach of social solidarity economy (SSE) for bringing groups of consumers and groups of producers together to co-create an alternative, transformative socially responsible economies. ASEC is calling for direct linkages between consumer communities in the urban centers and producer communities in the rural areas/countryside. We’re telling them stories of communities that have reorganized their local economies through solidarity initiatives of people.
In May 2020 ASEC organized a two days online course, the «ASEC Online SSE Academy», followed by numerous participants from the Asian countries. Innovative case studies were reported, videotaped and are accessible here.
Moments of solidarity in the socio-economic space among people scattered in various places of the world are little seeds of systemic change. Quite significantly, they provide « proofs of concept » of the jointly built global vision and shared values of all actors around the world who are committed to systemic change.
May 13, 2020 - in front of Herodeion, under Acropolis in Athens, Greece - a magnificent concert!
120 Greek musicians sing in memory of the Turkish musicians Helin Bolek and Ibrahim Gokcek, who died in May 2020 after a hunger strike of 288 and 323 days.
Helin and Ibrahim were members of the activist group ’Grup Yorum’ and had started a hunger strike to protest against the persecution of the Turkish authorities, the imprisonment of members of the group and the destruction of their cultural center.
watch in youtube here
"From Greece to Turkey, the solidarity of the peoples is the only response to barbarism."