Natural Scenery

“We are nature and nature is us”

The current pandemic has thrown human health systems into the spotlight, but recognizing the inextricable ties between human, animal and environmental health will be key to preventing the next pandemic. This is the One Health approach. Throughout the GLF Biodiversity Digital Conference: One World – One Health on 28–29 October, almost 4,900 attendees from 148 countries engaged with 261 speakers coming from a diverse array of backgrounds to discuss ways to protect the world’s biodiversity and its many habitats. Here are some standout quotes to take away from the event:

On connecting with nature

“The conversion of nature for production is winning the race, and conservationists are trying to beat the clock. It’s becoming one giant race to get to first place.” – Kristine Tompkins, Cofounder and President, Tompkins Conservation

“Communities’ roots are entangled with forest roots: if we fail to one, we fail the other.” – Andrea Morales-Rivas, Wildlife biologist, Asociación Territorios Vivos El Salvador 

“The relationship between people and nature must be one of interdependence, otherwise we risk overlooking something that Indigenous peoples have known all along: that we are nature and nature is us, and failing to see this simple truth is what has gotten us into this mess in the first place.” – Tonio Sadik, Director of Environment, Assembly of First Nations (Canada)

“How do we reconnect with nature? We do it by falling in love with what gives us life. That means restoring the water protectors, which are the salmon runs.” – Niria Alicia Gracia, Xicana human rights advocate, leader and innovator

“Planting a few acres of trees will have very little impact on reversing climate change if our collective behaviors continue to extract, exploit and commodify our environments. Rather, we must address the root causes of the planetary crisis we are in: the disconnection between the human beings and the planet.” – Galina Angarova, Executive Director, Cultural Survival

“Both humans and animals contribute to an impact on the world. However, humans are the ones who contribute incorrectly by exceeding their own needs. There is a place to work within conservation and to harmonize with nature.” – Shahid Naeem, E3B Professor, Colombia University

“In our quest for conservation and awareness, photography is a wonderful asset. It’s a power tool as it is a universal language.” – Tina Claffey, award-winning nature photographer

“The value of what we extract from nature isn’t calculated using the right math. We’re not putting the right dollar amount on the value that intact ecosystems contribute to the planet.” – Maria Amalia Souza, Founder and Senior Advisor, CASA Socio-Environmental Fund

“If something happens in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, the whole world will feel it. So, it is called the ‘pulse of the planet’.” – Eklabya Sharma, Deputy Director General, ICIMOD

“Bats are not the bad guys. Really, they provide a myriad of ecosystem services that no other species can provide. I like to think of them more like the canary in the mine that alerts us to problems in the environment.” – Raina Plowright, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Montana State University

On food

“We need to link farmers and customers. If a farmer knows his customers, he will never poison their food. If a customer knows the farmer growing his food, they won’t bargain with him.” – Thomas Jacob, Advisor, Peermade Development Society Organic Spices

“The U.S. has the highest meat consumption per capita of any country in the world, and we are in no moral position to tell other countries what or what not to eat.” – Laura Kahn, Physician and Research Scholar, Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs

On the pandemic

“The pandemic is a clear and present sign that we are doing something wrong, and a gateway to do something better.” – Rodrigo Medellin, Senior Professor, Ecology and Biodiversity Department, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

“A major global epidemic or pandemic was never a question of if, it was a question of when…What did shock me and many of my colleagues was the absolute failure of the global community to come together as a global community to respond to what is a global threat – not just to health, it’s a threat to our economies and our social wellbeing.” – Dennis Carroll, Chair of the Leadership Board, Global Virome Project

“In the middle of a pandemic, COVID-19, if there’s ever been a moment in human history where we’ve been thrown and thrust to the very front and shown that we are as humans very vulnerable, it’s now.” – Musonda Mumba, Chief of the Terrestrial Ecosystems Unit, UN Environment

Other words of wisdom

“I think all of us should be ‘prisoners of hope’. We shouldn’t preach doom and gloom. We should be talking about what can be done to benefit all of us on this planet.” – Yolanda Kakabadse Navarro, Former Minister of Environment for Ecuador

“We rely on nature for everything… it’s inherent to everything we are and do.” – Bård Vegar Solhjell, Director General, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation

“If we fail to act now, future generations will ask, ‘why did we not act to save the Earth given all the evidence we have?’ ” – Sir Robert Watson, Head of the scientific advisory group for the UNEP Global Assessments Synthesis Report

“If you are not sitting around the table, you quickly end up on the menu.” – Robert Nasi, Director General, Center for International Forestry Research

“Water is the blood stream of the whole earth.” – Julien Noël Rakotoarisoa, Director General of Environmental Governance, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (Madagascar)

“We have to get beyond the gloss of corporate policy and promise to action on the ground.” – Pippa Howard, Director, Extractives & Development Infrastructure, Flora & Fauna International

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