Earth Day has been diligently celebrated on April 22nd, since 1970 and each year it emphasizes on encouraging people for responsible stewardship of our biosphere and educating them regarding the various concerns that are rising regarding our environment. Like 2022, this year the world comes together to support the idea of ‘Investing in Our Planet’
The planet is a perfect concoction of elements and conditions that nurture and foster life that has not yet been found elsewhere in the universe yet. It has evolved through the ages and will continue to do so, while we change our environment making it unliveable for humans to thrive. Human sustainability totally depends on the non-destructive development that brings resilience toward global risks. This mandates an investment not just for financial security but for non-financial security & sustainability too.
Here are 7 ways the Human Systems can 'Invest on the Planet'
Invest in sustainable energy and transport Our energy requirements for industrial, domestic, and transport operations are majorly fulfilled by fossil fuels and it's high time we switch to ethical and greener alternatives. This can be done by investing in renewable energy resources like solar, wind, and green hydrogen energy. But, only switching to renewable energy is not enough- we need to invest more to advance technology and infrastructure for energy efficiency. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), energy is responsible for more than 2/3rd of global greenhouse gas emissions. however one of the IEA reports also states that adopting energy efficiency could reduce yearly energy-related emissions of 3.5 Gt CO2 eq (approximately 12 percent) bringing over 40% of the GHG reduction needed to align with the Paris Agreement.
Fund for social equity and equality A study by the World Bank highlighted that people living in poverty, in comparison with the rest of the population, experience more economic and environmental disturbances resulting from climate change, inaccessibility to social benefits like healthcare, and lesser opportunities. Indigenous communities, who are more connected and dependent on nature, are often overlooked by authorities while making policies. Women are underrepresented in global climate negotiations. People from lower-income backgrounds find it difficult to take measures for sustainability since their main concern is to survive poverty. To implement the concept of environmental justice, we require more people to fund systems that work to attain social equality and equity.
Promote circular designs to close the loops Linear economic systems have proven to be exploitative, and environmentally destructive. We can say that current environmental problems are a result of linear economic systems that are based on the ‘take-make-waste’ model. Thus, it should be our priority to invest more in building circular regenerative designs to eliminate waste from the value chain, manage resources efficiently, circulate materials in a loop, and regenerate nature. We must build our current innovations for sustainability on circular and regenerative principles of designing and not merely resulting from a reactive response. This will avoid creating more problems in the future.
Support regenerative agriculture and food systems The food industry is accountable for nearly 26 percent of worldwide GHG emissions; the sectors of agriculture, forestry, and land use account for about 13 percent to 21 percent of overall GHG emissions. Switching to sustainable practices and adopting cleaner technologies to produce food can help us reduce the GHG impacts, and also create resilience for food security. Soil-less farming (hydroponics and aeroponics), solar or wind-powered irrigation, peri-urban and urban farming, developing meat alternatives, and the like are a few of the ways to bring sustainability to food and agriculture.
5. Invest in renewables and reusable products
Our earth is choking as a result of the excessive plastic waste that is being littered all around. We create 800 million tonnes of plastic waste annually. Plastic waste pollution has negatively impacted ecosystem health and endangered wildlife. Moreover, microplastic pollution has also invaded our biological systems- raising health concerns for humans. There is an urgent need to detach ourselves from the ‘use and throw’ mentality and invest in renewable, reusable, and recyclable options.
6. Reinforce research, development, and education for the environment
Education and research play a pivotal role in developing strategies to tackle environmental challenges. Education helps to spread awareness, while research helps in bringing about technological and strategic advancements for fighting against climate and waste crises. More funds need to be allocated to educate people and promote research that will assist in sustainable development.
7. Invest in initiatives for the protection and restoration of nature Startup funding- There are many amazing organizations that are working towards the restoration of nature, waste management, and environmental justice. Mossy Earth, for example, is doing exemplary work in the restoration of natural ecosystems around Europe. The only catch is the lack of financial support. Hence, there is an ardent need for every one of us to step up to contribute towards such organizations who, with their activities, are helping our earth to heal. ESG investing- More and more businesses are actively getting involved in adopting sustainable approaches in their business practices. Evaluating a company’s ESG performance can give us an idea about its practices around environmental, social, and governance factors. In addition to the ESG evaluation, we must look at how transparent a business supply chain is, from where they source their materials, how they manage their waste, whether is there any policy for Extended Product Responsibility, etc.
The crisis that our planet is facing today needs immediate action - be it financial, political, social, or individual- to bring about a sustainable and circular revolution in traditional systems. We ought to change how we grow and eat our food, fuel our energies, transport goods, travel, dress, and the like. We need to redesign our systems for sustenance and resilience on the 'Blue Dot' we know as Home.
References: ‘Greenhouse emissions from energy’ Retrieved on 19th April, 2023 from https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/data-tools/greenhouse-gas-emissions-from-energy-data-explorer
‘Emissions savings’ Retrieved on 19th April, 2023 from https://www.iea.org/reports/multiple-benefits-of-energy-efficiency/emissions-savings
‘Shock Waves Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty’ Retrieved on 19th April, 2023 from https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/server/api/core/bitstreams/aa3a35e0-2a20-5d9c-8872-191c6b72a9b9/content
2019, Hannah Ritchie, ‘Food production is responsible for one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions’ Retrieved on 19th April, 2023 from https://ourworldindata.org/food-ghg-emissions
‘Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF)’ Retrieved on 19th April, 2023 from https://unfccc.int/topics/land-use/workstreams/land-use--land-use-change-and-forestry-lulucf
2022, Olivia Lai, ‘8 Shocking Plastic Pollution Statistics to Know About’ Retrieved on 19th April, 2023 from https://earth.org/plastic-pollution-statistics/