Updated: Apr 1
2021 is the inaugural year of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration which aims to halt the degradation of ecosystems and restore them to “enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change, and stop the collapse of biodiversity.” Humans for Abundance launched its pilot program last year with very similar goals, and it is affirming to see one of the largest organizations in history commit to ecological restoration on a global scale.
By 2030, the world will have to have undergone fundamental and systemic changes in order to avoid catastrophic climate change and mega-extinctions. This seems daunting, but the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that humans can quickly change their systems and lifestyles in order to benefit others. We are nothing if not adaptable. It has also shown that massive change works best when everyone takes part. Governments, corporations, and nonprofits have known about climate change for more than 30 years and it has only gotten worse in that time because people trusted these large organizations to solve the problem. We are running out of time, and the only way to prevent catastrophe for many humans and most non-humans on earth is by combining the collective actions of the people with the power and resources of our institutions. The UN cannot do it alone, and neither can we.
The strategy of the UN’s decade of restoration focuses on three pathways: “building a global restoration movement; increasing political will; and building the required technical and financial capacity for restoration at scale.” Humans for Abundance has been hard at work on the foundations for those paths, and this blog will break down how our work complements the strategies of the UN.
Humans for Abundance’s vision is to lead the largest and most impressive movement of humans toward the restoration and conservation of the planet’s ecosystems and their biodiversity. We aim to do this by creating partnerships between people in developed cities and rural, biodiverse areas. The burden of ecosystem restoration can not solely fall on the people who live in diverse ecosystems because the ones who live in the large cities generally consume more resources. By partnering with ecological restorers, busy urbanites can become co-restorers and be part of the global restoration movement without having to change their careers or dedicate their weekends to gardening or trash pickup. This reciprocal relationship benefits restorers, co-restorers, and all life on this planet by creating a new network between people with resources and people with access to land. And, if urbanites want to spend their weekends gardening or picking up trash too, even better!
Humans for Abundance’s mission is to inspire people to restore and conserve the planet’s ecosystems and biodiversity by taking small actions that together have a large-scale positive impact. Our political philosophy is embedded in this mission. Politics are influenced by what people do and experience in their lives, for better or for worse. If people took small scale actions to regenerate nature in their neighborhoods or in the Amazon, they would probably care more about the health of these ecosystems and the planet itself, and they would ask their politicians to do the same. No one wants to spend an afternoon picking up trash on a local beach only to have a chemical company dump waste into the water and make it unswimmable. Small actions make a difference, especially when they are done collectively, and politicians and companies notice what their voters and consumers care about. Whether the ones with power do something about it is the real question.
The final pathway, of building the required technical and financial capacity for restoration at scale, is perhaps the hardest one to realize. One reason that we started Humans for Abundance is because we believe the traditional non-profit model of soliciting donors for money and giving out handouts to people and smaller organizations has failed. Large environmental non-profits have been around since the 1970s, and while they have done great work in conservation, cleanup, and regulation of industry, they have largely faltered when it comes to stopping climate change and environmental destruction. The reasons for this are complicated, whole books have been written about it, and the fault mostly does not lie with the non-profits. But, instead of casting blame or repeating a model that isn’t working, we decided to try and create a new system, and thus, eco-services were born. The modern economy is largely a services based economy, and we figured that there are millions of people out there who would be happy to get paid for the environmental work they are already doing, or dreaming about doing. We also believe that there are millions of people and organizations who are willing to pay for environmental services. Our job is to bring these two groups together.
The United Nations began as an idea, and it has now become one of the most powerful organizations in human history. While it has its flaws, it is largely dedicated to positive change in this world, and its work to end poverty, war, and infectious disease has saved millions of lives. The fact that it is dedicating much of its resources to ecosystem restoration shows how serious that work is right now, and how little time we have. The UN will make a difference in the fight to end climate change and ecological destruction, but it is still uncertain if it will be enough. In order to turn the corner toward a more just and ecologically resilient world, everyone has to participate in whatever way they can. Humans for Abundance believes in the power of ideas to change behaviors, societies, and culture itself and in the immense compounded effect that millions of small actions can have on our environment.