Uniting for a common purpose
If we’re to successfully tackle the significant threats to our environment, we’re also going to have to address unfairness and inequality in our society.
“Focusing on inequality will play a major part in addressing environmental restoration”
With social divisions and factions on the increase, it’s incumbent on all of us to focus on building trust and action on the issues that unite us.
Whether you look at economic status, politics or culture, divisions are growing – and with them, the risks exacerbating climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. Focusing on inequality and inclusivity will play a major part in addressing environmental restoration.
Globally, divisions are getting in the way of tackling climate change and the environment – and these need to be challenged. As professionals, we have a role to play in highlighting and seeking to overcome areas of division, be they local or international.
We recently ran a faith-based webinar, and afterwards I went to see the Bahu Trust in Birmingham. They told me why they place so much importance on breaking down barriers of division, relating a story about a brook that ran through their community. The brook was once a source of clean water; now it is not. For this brook to be restored, communities upstream and downstream must work together.
Our common purpose is the environment – something we all share, enjoy and have responsibility for. Our beliefs, principles and values align here. And yet, ironically, some of the most developed countries are creating the antecedents for greater division rather than greater unity.
A harmonious society will play a huge role in protecting the environment. This is one of the reasons for IEMA’s change in recent years to embrace social sustainability as well as environment management. IEMA is where we can celebrate and build on successful initiatives to address inequality.
As an example, in this issue we investigate how the NHS’ Healthy New Towns standard is targeting lower-income groups with environmentally friendly housing and green spaces. We also ask how ‘rewilding’ conservation can help improve social cohesion, health and wellbeing, and how best to tackle air pollution in cities across the world.
Tim balcon, CEO of IEMA