Mapping a route from a planet in peril to a world of well-being

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Extract below from foreword to the recent Friends of the Earth research publication.

Mapping a route from a planet in peril to a world of well-being: How we can stop acting stupid and live up to our billing as the smartest species of all time.

“Humans are ingenious. We’ve done amazing things. Medicines to cure many ills. Men on the moon. Cities that support billions of people. Communications systems that enable us to work, socialise and share information across the globe.

We’re doing some amazing things right now. Across the world we’re rapidly increasing the use of solar panels, we’re beginning to mass produce electric cars, and we’re cutting deaths from malaria. Far-sighted companies are putting sustainability at their core. Digital technology is racing ahead, improving democracies and delivering huge efficiencies and innovation. Our leading cities are collaborating to forge real solutions.

Yet we’re also ravaging the natural world – our natural life-support systems. Climate change is causing extreme weather events. Species are disappearing 100-1,000 times faster
than the normal extinction rate. Acidification of oceans and degradation of soils threaten food production. Meanwhile billions of people already go hungry, lack basic services, are excluded from full participation in society and don’t have decent work. At the other end of the spectrum the developed world faces crises of obesity and over-consumption in fearful, gated communities.

On our current course, in the next two decades we’ll do profound damage to human welfare, economies, and ecosystems.

We urgently need to turn this situation around. We must enable people everywhere to achieve well-being – those freedoms and capabilities that enable us all to live healthy, fulfilled lives on a
planet that can sustain us. But we must also recognise that unless we look after the planet it will be impossible for people now and in the future to achieve personal well-being.

That’s why Friends of the Earth has embarked on an unprecedented three-year research project. The Route Map Project will identify what needs to change to focus some of humanity’s amazing abilities – to be collaborative, ingenious, and
empathetic – on solving the environmental and social challenges we face and building a brighter future for everyone. This research will inspire the beginning of a new campaigning journey for Friends of the Earth.

We know change won’t be easy: there’s a dangerous and growing gap between scientific understanding of the challenges and public and political responses. But there’s also an explosion
of interest – especially in business, politics and academia – in finding a new path. Increasing numbers of people recognise that the damaged economy, gross inequalities and environmental
crisis of the world today are untenable. But the right kind of change won’t happen without a shared vision of a better world. A vision backed up with a compelling route map to get there, and
coupled with pressure from civil society, businesses and thinkers.

We know change is possible. History tells us that. Without change women wouldn’t have the vote, slavery would still be commonplace, the National Health Service wouldn’t exist, and there would have been no industrial or green revolutions. Without the digital revolution I wouldn’t be writing
this on a computer. The coming decades will throw up huge challenges and extraordinary uncertainty. As the world becomes increasingly inter-connected, we’ll cross thresholds in environmental, social and economic systems. Unforeseen events, so-called black swans, will happen. We do know the world population will grow, food production will be challenged, and the supply of some resources will struggle to keep up with demand.

But opportunities are bound to emerge from these challenges. If we seize the opportunities we could produce a much more stable, equal and healthy society by 2050.

We could provide well-being for everyone and for our planet.”

Link to full document – http://www.foe.co.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/mapping_a_route.pdf

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