We must rebuild our economy on solid foundations if we’re to weather the storms of the future.
Businesses, environmental organisations and youth leaders are urging the government to put nature and climate at the heart of decisions for the recovery effort, for healthy communities and a resilient economy, in an open letter addressed to the prime minister.
Boris Johnson unveiled the government’s roadmap to exit Covid-19 lockdown and restart the economy last night.
More than 60 signatories of major charities, businesses and youth leaders are calling on the PM to adopt four principles to enable a sustainable economic recovery for people and planet ahead of this announcement.
The letter demands that government create a more resilient economy by investing in the infrastructure, technology and skills to generate thousands of new jobs that directly contribute to a climate-safe future - and exclude polluting industries from help without a proper climate plan.
It also asks for increased access to wild spaces for everyone through restoring nature and oceans, incentivising walking and cycling, and supporting sustainable food, farming and fishing.
In addition, signatories argue that we must strengthen nature’s protections by ensuring the swift passage of environmental legislation - and introduce targets in law across the UK for the restoration of nature on a massive scale.
Global leaders must come together to plan for a green and sustainable recovery in the run-up to the vital United Nations climate conference and biodiversity conferences next year.
Richard Walker, managing director at Iceland Foods, said: “The economic recovery from this global health crisis must put the restoration of nature at its heart – because that is the only way we can continue to power our human endeavour sustainably.
"If nature is protected, we are protected. This letter asks the UK government to seize the opportunity to create something better out of this moment in history and establish a new normal: a climate-safe, nature-rich, healthy world for all.”
Beccy Speight, chief executive of the RSPB, said: “Humanity’s future is inextricably bound to the health of our planet. No part of the world is untouched by human activity, and as we continue our destruction of nature, we make our own planet less habitable for people as well.
“That’s why leaders young and old from the environmental movement are joining forces with business to call on the government to ensure that a resilient economy, healthy communities and a thriving natural world are at the heart of the relief and recovery effort.
"We must rebuild our economy on solid foundations if we’re to weather the storms of the future.”
Hilary McGrady, director-general at the National Trust, said: “Right now, the nation’s attention is rightly focused on dealing with the immediate and profound impact of Covid-19 on health, social fabric and livelihoods.
"But as governments around the world turn their thoughts to economic recovery, their plans must respond to what the lockdown has clearly shown; that people want and need access to nature-rich green spaces near where they live.
"This has to be a priority. Green infrastructure and scaling up renewables makes environmental and economic sense, creating jobs and an economy that are fit for the future. If we think green, we can create a win-win for the economy, for people and for the natural world.”
Bella Lack, young nature writer and campaigner and contributor to The Ecologist, added: “Nature can, and should, be a place of refuge for all people and creatures - somewhere we can unwind and ground ourselves in the simple things, like the sound of birdsong or waves lapping at the shore.
"The peace we find in nature has helped millions of people get through lockdown from their windows, balconies and gardens. We cannot and must not underestimate the value it brings to our lives.”
The potential for cross-sector collaboration has been highlighted during this crisis. Every signatory to this letter offers their expertise and support to help the Government find solutions as we rebuild and recover together, and welcomes the opportunity to discuss the next steps.
Organisations that have signed the open letter include Good Energy, Triodos Bank, Greenpeace, Woodland Trust, The Wildlife Trusts, UK Youth 4 Nature, and Keep Britain Tidy. A full list of signatories can be found here.
In addition to CEOs, influential supporters adding their name to the letter include Chris Packham, Kevin McCloud, Deborah Meaden and Jerome Flynn. Businesses and environmental leaders will continue to work together to ensure that the recovery builds a healthier future for all.
This article is based on a press release from Greenhouse PR.