Elizabeth Wathuti: Now is the time to start investing in nature regeneration

By Elizabeth Wathuti | August 17, 2021

Elizabeth Wathuti is an Environmentalist and Climate Activist from Kenya. She is founder of the Green Generation Initiative and Head of Campaigns at the Wangari Maathai Foundation

Here is her contribution to the Our World in Your Hands project.

Dear world leaders,

In the year 2050, I will celebrate my 55th birthday. If we do not at once bridge the gap between our words and actions, by that time we are likely to be met with a world of lost forests, rising sea levels, poisoned rivers and oceans, food insecurity, frequent floods, and melting icebergs.

I’m not certain how much the natural world will have changed but I am certain that my children or grandchildren will ask me: “who did this?”

Humans have been destroying the priceless global commons for decades. Like many other young people who are fighting every day and demanding urgency in the fight against the climate crisis, I am not ready to carry this burden for generations.

Our world is in your hands. Growing up in the woods has taught me that when you bond with nature, you develop a natural desire to protect nature. My work focuses on helping children to fall in love with nature so that they may learn to cherish and protect it. I wish our world leaders shared this connectedness with nature.

The climate crisis is a global emergency that goes beyond borders. We cannot solve the climate and ecological crisis without treating it as a crisis. The pathways for limiting global warming to 1.5C are narrowing and we must accelerate action.If we want to keep global warming within the Paris Agreement target of 1.5C, it won’t be enough to reduce our emissions by half every decade until we get to ‘net zero’ emissions. We must also regenerate nature quickly and make sure that all our remaining natural ecosystems stay intact.

This is a call to also restore, preserve and sustainably manage our high carbon sinks. The more we delay action and do nothing, the more the people who have contributed the least to this crisis continue to suffer the dire consequences. This is a great injustice.

COP26 will be a landing point for action and the critical judgment moment for whether governments have been serious about tackling the climate crisis and meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. I hope you agree with me that agreements, commitments and pledges will not in themselves solve the climate crisis; we must move from commitments to real action now.

It is great to see so many countries and non state actors committing to net zero, but 2050 targets are not enough. We need countries to commit to rapid decarbonization and nature regeneration this decade and for that commitment to be reflected in the decisions the government are making today, this month, this year.

Despite intensifying climate impacts, adaptation and loss and damage have still not received the political attention they warrant, nor the necessary levels of financial investment required. This must also change ahead of and at COP26.

We are already in the midst of a crisis, and we must act as if it is a crisis. We should not allow powerful interests to cloud what we already know to be true. The time for action is now and we must all join hands together for our planet.

In that spirit, I urge all the world leaders to make the right decisions today, by taking action now to respond to the climate crisis. Turn towards life by stopping investments in all fossil fuels and start investing in nature regeneration.

Elizabeth Wathuti

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