21st April 2020
The health emergency we face as a global community is interconnected to the health emergency the Earth is facing: it’s steady degradation, the extinction and disappearance of species and the climate emergency. This Corona virus pandemic and consequent global economic collapse, and the rupture of lives and livelihoods of millions calls us to urgently take action.
This Earth Day over 500 organisations, movements and leaders from over 50 countries call for holistic and integrated action where the health and wellbeing of all peoples and the planet are at the centre of government and institutional policy, community building and civic action.
The planetary coalition includes, amongst others, Navdanya International, Naturaleza de Derecho, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Ifoam, Regeneration International, Third World Network, International Forum on Globalization, Biovision, Sarvodaya Movement, SAM-Sahabat Alam Malaysia and CAP-Consumers Association of Penang, Council of Canadians, Initiative for Health and Equity, Diverse Women for Diversity, Isde-International Society of Doctors for the Environment. Also joining the call are renowned leaders, scientists and environmentalists including, Vandana Shiva, Nnimmo Bassey, Fernando Cabaleiro, Jerry Mander, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Maude Barlow, André Leu, Hans R Herren, Satish Kumar.
The pandemic reminds us that we violate the rights of the Earth and all her species at our own peril. Scientific predictions indicate that if we do not stop this anthropogenic war against the Earth and her species, we will soon destroy the very conditions that allowed humans to evolve and survive.
As we invade forest ecosystems, destroy the homes of species and manipulate plants and animals for profits, we create conditions for new disease epidemics.
Industrial agriculture and intensive livestock farming are contributing to the health crisis and to the debilitation of our immune systems, leaving us more exposed to new diseases.
“Over the past 50 years, up to 300 new pathogens have emerged. It is well documented that around 70 percent of the human pathogens, including HIV, Ebola, Influenza, MERS and SARS emerged when the forest ecosystems were invaded, and viruses jumped from animals to humans. When animals are cramped in factory farms, new diseases like swine flu and bird flu spring up and spread.”
While claiming to feed the world, globalised industrial food systems have pushed a billion humans to hunger and this number is growing with the world-wide lockdown and the destruction of livelihoods.
As the Pandemic shows, it is local food communities who are able to regularly provide and distribute food while globalised food chains, in some parts of the world, collapsed and even speculated with rising food prices. Future food systems have to be based on seed sovereignty and food sovereignty ,on local circular economies giving back to the earth , and ensuring fair prices to producers .
The holistic and integrated response to the health emergency is to make a transition from the fossil fuel intensive, chemical intensive paradigm of agriculture and globalised trade, to local, biodiverse, ecological systems of producing and distributing food. Our health and the health of the planet is one health. Respecting planetary boundaries, ecosystem boundaries and species integrity is vital to protecting the planet and our health
“We must shift from the economics of greed and limitless growth, of competition and violence, which have pushed us to an existential crisis, and move to an ‘Economy of Care’ – care of the Earth, of people and of all living species”.
The signatories of the Planetary communique call on authorities and government representatives in their countries, cities and communities to move towards a paradigm in which ecological responsibility and economic justice are the foundation for the creation of a healthy and prosperous future for humanity. To facilitate the transition, the signatories call for a series of actions, including the protection of biodiversity, the promotion of agroecology and local production, stop public subsidies to industrial agriculture, an end to chemical intensive monocultures, genetic manipulation and intensive animal farming and Halt subsidies and further investments in fossil fuels sector, including fossil fuel based agricultural inputs, as real climate action.
Vandana Shiva, Navdanya International: “A systems approach to healthcare in times of the Covid-19 crisis would address not just the virus, but also how new epidemics are spreading as we invade into the homes of other beings. It also needs to address the comorbidity conditions related to noncommunicable chronic diseases which are spreading due to a non-sustainable, anti-nature, and unhealthy industrial food systems. Globalised, industrialised food systems spread disease. Monocultures spread disease. Deforestation is spreading disease. The health emergency is forcing us to get back to the local dimension. We can do it when there is a political will. Let us make this transition to localization permanent.”
Nnimmo Bassey, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (Homef): “The world is at a crossroads right now. This is the time to turn away from burning the Planet by urgently transiting from dependence on fossil fuels, recognising the rights of Mother Earth and punishing ecocide in all its manifestations.”
Fernando Cabaleiro, Naturaleza de Derechos: “This pandemic of Covid-19 is telling us that the system of mass accumulation that rules the world’s economies, and thus the life and health of the earth, its people and biodiversity has reached its tipping point. Its high vulnerability is now well exposed, showing that it is time for the political powers to listen to all the organisations, assemblies, people, farmers and indigenous peoples that from every corner of the planet already called out and warned that such a collapse could happen. The whole universe of globalized civil society, on this Earth Day, with all of humanity in captivity, rises in spite of this, in a single cry of hope.”
Read the full communique here.