Assessing lynx and wildcat reintroduction to the UK
By Katherine Walsh,
Early August saw the commemoration of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, back in 1945 on 6 and 9 August.
"A common thread in many of the places I visited was that nature and people are fundamentally connected, and that actions to protect nature are often simultaneously good for people. This manifests itself in many ways: in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, survivor trees were a great inspiration in the social healing after the tragedy of the bombings, revealing that life could persist after the radioactive pollution."
The shocking power of nuclear weapons, combined with other horrors seen in World War 2, ushered in the era of multilateralism, with the establishment of the United Nations, and a rights- and rules-based system that governs the international order. However, the many agreements made since the 1940s have not been met: there are many human rights agreements and environmental agreements that have not made sufficient progress. New problems have emerged that were not foreseen in the 1940s: climate change, the impact of mass media and especially the internet, and emerging challenges such as Artificial Intelligence.
This year is the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and you would expect such a momentous occasion to be widely known, but that isn’t the case, and it runs the risk of being a missed opportunity to raise commitment to human rights. There is a campaign that everyone can take part in, including making a pledge for human rights. (https://www.ohchr.org/en/get-involved/campaign/udhr-75)
This year has also seen the half-way point of the period for Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the main programme to achieve a world of peace, justice and dignity for all in a healthy environment. Yet while governments all signed up to Agenda 2030 in 2015, not enough progress is being made. As this year’s report states, “Halfway to 2030, the promises enshrined in the SDGs are in peril.” Multiple social, economic and environmental crises, lack of international concern or co-operation, and a lack of political will to address these interconnected challenges, all pose significant challenges.
These crises are not unique to ‘Global South’ countries, but are present in all countries, including the UK. The annual SDG Index report and dashboards highlight that the UK is not only making insufficient progress, but that some challenges are worsening. Climate change, poor nutrition, sustainable consumption and production, and international relations remain as major challenges in the UK, and poverty is actually worsening.
Sustainable development provides us with the template, for a world where human needs are met, the environment is protected and restored, and where justice and fairness are everywhere. But this is only a blueprint: we have to make it part of our work, everywhere and every day. We have to build a better world, and determine what that looks like together, but where can we learn from?
I spent a month in Japan for my Fellowship research which was focused on sustainable development. I explored how people and communities face the persistent (although often infrequent) natural hazards that Japan faces, and also how communities have been affected by, and work to overcome the impacts of great challenges.
A common thread in many of the places I visited was that nature and people are fundamentally connected, and that actions to protect nature are often simultaneously good for people. This manifests itself in many ways: in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, survivor trees were a great inspiration in the social healing after the tragedy of the bombings, revealing that life could persist after the radioactive pollution.
In many places, nature can be a valuable ally in reducing the impact of disasters, for example by planting forests that help reduce flooding risk (and tsunami damage in Japan) and involving communities in planting the trees. In some places, nature-based industries were developed in post-disaster settings, that took advantage of the newly constructed environments (following volcanic eruptions) to generate income for impoverished communities. The beauty of nature provides us with great opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment.
While the UK doesn’t face natural hazards in the same way as Japan does, growing impacts of climate change mean that people and communities will have to become better prepared. Japan has many lessons to teach us about how history, heritage, trauma, and practical approaches to ‘be prepared’ can come together to face the future with greater certainty.
For more information on SDG click here.
The views and opinions expressed by any Fellow are those of the Fellow and not of the Churchill Fellowship or its partners, which have no responsibility or liability for any part of them.
By Katherine Walsh,
By Brenda Parker,
By Ellie MacLennan,