Below is an essay from HRH Prince Charles on how we can all 'build back better' after Covid-19.
As we re-think our world in the wake of the pandemic, it is increasingly clear that the health and well being of people and the planet are inextricably linked. To restore harmony we must put nature at the centre of our economy - this is often described as the circler bio-economy. From Africa to Latin America there are a number excellent examples of national and regional commitments that could be transformed through this approach. Yet to succeed I believe the following actions are needed. We need to restore bio-diversity and we need to use nature to drive prosperity for all. Bio-diversity is declining faster than at any time in human history. Nearly one million species are currently at risk of extinction. Which means we are making ourselves ever more vulnerable to future pandemics. Natural resources like agricultural, landscapes and forests are owned by a wide range of small to large stakeholders. Better valuing these resources offers a better opportunity to generate a more equitable distribution of income, jobs, and prosperity. So we need to rethink land, food and health systems. Reintegrative agriculture can enable agriculture to become a net carbon sink by restoring soil fertility and it can also address climate change, increase prosperity, revitalise rural communities and enhance human health. Regenerative agriculture nourishes the soil in which all life depends especially the microbial life that sequesters carbon in the earth. It implies a significant shift from industrial farming, towards mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems based on small holder organic farmers. Because, more people are needed to do the work, regenerative farming increases employment helping meet the demand for jobs. To empower nature we need to invest in her, particularly in reforestation. Recent discoveries have revealed the essential role of forests for the global water cycles and food security.
The virtues of restoring tree cover for soil and water conservation are no where better illustrated than in a heavily deforested country like Ethiopia. With a pledge to restore 15 million hectares of forest, and with the help of water conservation techniques, such terraces, the re-growing trees increase the water in filtration and help springs reemerge. Which reduces the walking distance for water sources and opens opportunities for irrigated horticulture and improved nutrition. Every year nearly 3 million hectares of forest are lost in Africa and yet Africa is unique in that it has the largest restoration opportunity of any continent in the world with more than 700 million hectares of deforested land. In this regard, a real opportunity to transform the environment and millions of lives and lively hoods exists in the form of the African Forest landscape Restoration Initiative. This is a country led effort to restore 100 million hectares of deforested and degraded landscapes across Africa. The same kind of ambition exists in South America in the form of the 2020 initiative. The opportunities there for scaling up restoration in a way that generates multiple benefits for local communities can be realised if concerted action is mobilised to generate the immense added value that species rich forests can provide. Specifically in restored and resilient landscapes, improved soil fertility, enhanced agricultural productivity and food security, reduced desertification, improved water resources, increased biodiversity and green jobs. Therefore, with so much opportunity in front of us, let us rethink our relation with nature and reset for a better future we have absolutely no time to waste.