Let Nature be Synonymous with Future
Several weeks have now passed since we have all awaken to a different life. Borders closed, countries locked down, people confined and separated from each other, including friends and family alike.
These are unprecedented times, with grief and suffering, for the planet’s living generations. The Oceano Azul Foundation wishes, first of all, to praise doctors, nurses and all paramedical staff, not only in Portugal, but all over the world, that are in the frontline of the fight against the pandemic. They have been outstanding in their dedication and sacrifice. We will never forget them.
The same also goes to all the people that need to carry on working outside their homes – exposing themselves – to ensure the vital infrastructures and goods, such as transportation, food and medicine distribution, security forces and others. They are the engine that keep our countries functioning and that allow the majority to stay home.
The Oceanário de Lisboa, Oceano Azul’s beautiful window into the ocean, closed its doors even before Portugal decided to close for business, for the sake of protecting our visitors and our co-workers. However, although our public aquarium can close its doors to the public, it cannot close its tanks to all the marine life they hold and therefore must continue functioning fully. Many of our colleagues (biologists, engineers, staff responsible by life support systems) need, thus, to also walk out of their homes every day to keep the Oceanário de Lisboa functioning. They deserve our full praise and gratitude for their commitment to the benefit of the marine life for which we are responsible.
This crisis is unprecedented not only because of the extent of its impacts, but also because it shows how globalized the world has become. Never before have so many countries in all continents, and so many people, been affected by the same crisis, in the same way, at the same time. People are suffering with the disease – some most unfortunately not being able to overcome it – and with the separation from each other. But people are also affected by the economic crisis that has been created, given all the recessive measures being adopted to fight the spread of the virus.
The Oceano Azul Foundation wishes to express its solidarity to all that are affected and very much hopes all its partners, stakeholders and friends are well and will remain well.
While aware that things may still get worse before becoming better, the Oceano Azul Foundation’s resolve will not weaken or falter, but remains mobilized for the cause of our planet and the ocean. We need to be even more determined, even more vigilant, if we want to make sure that the future holds positive and transformative actions, instead of taking dangerous steps backwards, in fighting the climate crisis and in restoring our ocean. We believe all organizations, working in nature conservation, will come out wiser and stronger from this crisis. And their actions will be more needed than ever before.
Several lessons can be taken from the pandemic crisis, that we think are useful to the future work of all nature conservation organizations. To start with, between the economy and saving lives, most societies, governments and countries in the world chose to save lives. It is a matter of readjusting our priorities. If this is valid for an acute crisis such as the pandemic, we should work together to assure that it will also be the case for the long looming climate and environmental crises. In fact, in the context of our formidable planetary crises (climate change, species extinction, pollution and environmental degradation) what is at stake is also the need to save lives, including the lives of the younger and future generations (our sons and daughters, and their sons and daughters). With this lesson in mind, let us work together to ensure that the old unsustainable economy is not the priority anymore in the coming decade, and, hence, reaching 2030 in a better position to, at the very least, fulfil the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
A second lesson we should take out of the current situation is that once and for all we (the people, and our political and economic decision-makers) ought to follow science. We should follow science to combat epidemics, as we should follow science to address the planet’s unfolding climate and environmental crises. This current pandemic is stark evidence that when we ignore science, we find ourselves in crisis, and then in seeking solutions to our crisis we turn to the very thing we ignored, science.
This unprecedented sanitary crisis also tells us that, as a species, we should stop believing that we are in full control of all that might affect us, that we are self-sufficient and that we are separate to and are even above nature. These beliefs have been shaping our mainstream mentality since at least the beginning of the modern age, influencing our most relevant political and economic options, and taking no sufficient account of the safeguarding of nature.
If we understand that we are not as self-sustainable as many thought and that the economy should not be the only priority, being in fact a subsystem within the global planetary environment and deeply dependent on the ecosystems’ goods, services and the natural capital they embody, we may become more open to the planet’s agenda all together. We may come to respect, and value nature more than we have done throughout decades of faith in our species and our technology above all.
This is where a new narrative may be grounded: the “Nature Power Narrative” for it will tell us about our dependency on the planet’s natural world. Such a narrative will be a powerful ally for a transformative agenda for the planet and the ocean. It should aim at reaching a stage where “nature” and “future” become synonyms. It should make people and decision-makers, altogether, listen with different ears to nature and to science
Such a new narrative may greatly reinforce our calls for action. RISE UP – A Blue Call to Action, which the Oceano Azul Foundation, together with its partners, has been promoting, and which is a 10-year plan to restore our ocean is open to signatures and your support will allow this Blue Call to contribute to make decision-makers listen to nature and listen to science.
For the Oceano Azul Foundation, as for any other nature conservation organization, the “Nature Power Narrative” may amount, if appropriately developed, firstly, and divulged, secondly, to an important, unexpected and critical ally of the cause of the planet’s sustainability. One that may make unavoidable positive change come faster than foreseen.
Let us RISE UP and work together to develop and diffuse the “Nature Power Narrative”!