About four hours north of Oslo, in the Norwegian mountains, is a modest cottage. Water is obtained from a local well, while electricity is provided via a solar panel and a battery. Farmers who bring their livestock to graze are drawn to the area during the summer since it is typically quite green. When it snowed heavily in the winter, the roads would frequently be blocked, making it necessary to ski to reach this modest home.
For more than 20 years, my family and I have traveled there by land from Sweden. We would spend time there catching up with one another and relaxing from our hectic lives in the big city.
Even here, close to the Arctic, my loved ones and I are witnessing a significant change. Norway is my wife’s native country and one of the least affected regions on the planet when it comes to heat and drought. Longer droughts have taken the place of the summer’s regular gentle rain, leaving farmers with no choice but to feed their livestock due to dried-up grass and empty wells.
Extreme weather shows us that the intricate cycles of nature, of which we are a part, are terribly out of balance in the middle of our combined biodiversity and climate crises. Our physical and emotional health, food security, water supply, and so many other things depend on protecting and restoring environment.
But as one of our best strategies for coping with and adapting to the climate crisis and a warming planet, environmental restoration becomes even more crucial. The natural world defends us when we live in peace with it. However, we’ve let massive fossil fuel, industrial food, and financial giants set our priorities for us, viewing our natural treasures as nothing more than commodities that can be traded for enormous profits and economic growth at the detriment of all kinds of life.
Restoring nature is essential because it protects us against heatwaves, forest fires, droughts, and floods—climate catastrophes that are occurring increasingly frequently all over the planet. More than ever, we require a fundamental change in awareness that allows us to reject the delusion that we are not part of nature since, in reality, we are nature.
We are inextricably and irrefutably woven into the thread of existence. And our woods, savannahs, lakes, and wetlands may come back to life given the right conditions. We require a broad social movement to restore nature, as well as courageous leadership to enact legislation that will usher in an era of rejuvenation.
We have recently witnessed critical actions being done to raise the importance of nature and biodiversity loss on the political and economic agendas. Nations came to an agreement last December at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference COP15 in Montreal to make ambitious efforts to conserve and restore land and coastal regions as well as to restore damaged ecosystems. They also acknowledged the rights and functions of indigenous peoples as the protectors of the environment and the necessity of gradually eliminating the massive tax-funded subsidies for the extractive industries.
A key component of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the new Nature Restoration Law was approved by the European Parliament in July. Although it is a positive first step toward fulfilling the European Union’s obligations to biodiversity, the legislation that was ultimately passed was significantly watered down from its initial text.
The world’s governments must put into effect binding national legislation in accordance with their commitments under the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF) if they are to truly safeguard what is left and restore nature. Nations will come together once more at the UN Biodiversity COP16 in late 2024 to present their action plans.
The moment has come for countries to begin a race to the top in order to show that they are committed to resolving the climate and environmental crises. We require decision-makers who have the guts to act in the best interests of all people.
These objectives are essential for strengthening our planet’s resilience, protecting it from upcoming extreme weather catastrophes, and sustaining all life in the decades to come.
The world needs a shift in consciousness, strong leadership, and, above all else, hope for the future. We require a large-scale environmental movement comparable to movements for human rights, environmental protection, and international justice. New opportunities arise and develop when people band together to save and preserve their only home. No matter where we live—in Norway, Namibia, or Nauru—we can work together to build a world where wildlife flourishes and we do too.