Of all today’s challenges that eco system demand bold, brave action, climate change may be the most daunting. In the lead up to the 2021 EAIE Community Exchange, the Conversation Starter series asks us to contemplate how international higher education can respond to the pressing issues of our time. Today’s essay looks at the urgent need for restoring Earth’s ailing ecosystems, calling upon higher education institutions to join hands with youth networks dedicated to reversing the effects of climate change.
Ecosystem restoration refers to any activity that aims to aid the recovery of an ecosystem through repairing its structure and function and bringing it back to a healthy state. Importantly, by focusing on the notions of repair and restoration, this phrase goes beyond simply reducing damage to the environment. According to the Living Planet Report 2020, “Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in millions of years.
Such functions are essential for us to thrive and survive, and – in addition to their importance to our physical environments – also play a huge role in the global economy. The cost of inaction is far greater than the cost of action, and that is a big concern for young people. The longer we avoid addressing the crisis, the more consequences we will suffer. Recognising the responsibility that decision-makers have towards future generations is pivotal to steering policy and action. Restoration is a long-term process and it needs to begin now to ensure that we make progress towards intergenerational justice. In addition, it is essential that young people are given opportunities to be involved in, and supported by, restoration efforts.
Even though financial considerations are important, they push us to regard nature through the capitalistic lens that caused the problem in the first place. The intrinsic value of nature has to be rediscovered for real restoration to occur.
The current pandemic is yet another illustration of our impact on the Earth’s systems. According to the IPBES Pandemics Report, “the underlying causes of pandemics are the same global environmental changes that drive biodiversity loss and climate change’’ eco system