NGOs have claimed, in the World Environment Day established by the UN in 1977 and celebrated this June 5, more green spaces in cities, restore the planet’s ecosystems or reduce the use of plastics, among other claims.
This year’s motto focuses on ecosystem restoration with the motto ‘Reimagine, recreate, restore’. Precisely on this day, the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) begins, a global mission to revive billions of hectares currently degraded.
Specifically, this Saturday Greenpeace focuses on the importance of cities for the environmental care Since they currently host 55% of the world’s population, they generate more than 70% of the world’s emissions and use more than two-thirds of the planet’s energy and resources. For this reason, it considers that its transformation is essential to fight against climate change and the loss of biodiversity, especially in the current situation of health crisis.
According to the study ‘Greening the cities. Urban spaces and their impact in health and well-being on how urban green areas improve the health of people and the planet ‘, published by the NGO, green areas improve microclimatic conditions of urban environments since they are capable of reducing the temperature of their surroundings by several degrees Celsius, in addition to providing shade protecting from solar radiation.
The report – which focuses on green and public spaces and their impact on health, with special attention to Bogotá, Madrid, Mexico City and Rome– adds that establishing urban vegetation is one of the most practical methods to cool cities and combat heat islands. In addition, they also prevent flooding by increasing the permeability of the soil.
Therefore, it concludes that these spaces are not only a social and public health investment, but also an opportunity to rebalance the relationship with nature, protecting human beings from future pandemics. Between the numerous benefits of living in contact with green areas They range from improving mental health to reducing the risk of depression and anxiety, to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, to better pregnancy outcomes, speeding recovery from surgery, and reducing premature mortality.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cities should have 50 square meters (m2) of green space per inhabitant, although 15 m2 is considered acceptable and the recommended minimum is 9 m2. However, cities are still far from these goals. For example, Madrid only has 21 m2 per inhabitant, although not evenly distributed in all districts. Only 10% of the surface of the urban nucleus of Madrid is public green space while 65% is occupied by “cement”.
For all these reasons, Greenpeace asks municipalities to implement urgent measures to improve the quality of life in cities and their sustainability, expanding public and green spaces and transforming the rest of the sectors necessary to stop the climate emergency and the loss of biodiversity.
“We want to ask for green cities to achieve a healthy planet. We need change the way cities work, reinvent them, if we want to face the climate emergency, the loss of biodiversity and increase our resilience to future pandemics “, argues the head of Greenpeace’s Sustainable Cities campaign, Alba García.
In the case of WWF, they ask the European Union and the Spanish administrations to commit to restoring, at least, 15% of the land surface and 15% of the sea surface since, in his opinion, humanity has 10 years ahead that are key to regenerating key areas of nature and reversing its unstoppable degradation, especially intense from the seventies.
For example, the NGO points out that the intensification of agriculture, cattle ranching and the expansion of infrastructures have devastated more than 43 million hectares of forest in 13 years, an area equivalent to Morocco. Furthermore, most of the oceans are polluted, and more than 85% of wetlands have been lost, according to a WWF study.
The NGO claims that restoring 15% of degraded ecosystems in the right places can prevent 60% of predicted species extinctions, according to a study published in the journal ‘Nature’, and it has the potential to increase food security for 1.3 billion people.
“Ecological restoration is of crucial importance during this decade and its success will greatly shape the way we reverse our impact on nature. It is essential that the Government and the autonomous communities prioritize and plan the restoration of those key ecosystems that contribute to recovering our biodiversity and that provide greater benefits to society, such as riverside forests, wetlands, degraded coastal systems and valuable forest areas ” says the conservation director of WWF Spain, Enrique Segovia.
While, SEO/BirdLife urges all public administrations in Spain, the country with the largest natural capital in the EU, to bet decisively on the restoration of degraded natural areas as a tool to face the current ecological crisis and to guide the recovery of the economy towards a model of prosperity respectful with the environment and the future.
In the opinion of SEO / BirdLife, the restoration of degraded spaces, which stars one of the components of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, endowed with an investment of about 1,600 million euros in the next three years, it must become a fundamental axis of the long-term Spanish environmental policy, beyond 2023, due to all the benefits that it generates, not only environmental but also social, generating quality green employment and increasing the quality of the ecosystem services it provides.
SEO / BirdLife calls on Spain to support the approval of the new law proposed by the European Comission to make nature restoration legally mandatory for EU countries. In addition, it requests that a restoration plan be carried out on a national scale that includes clear objectives.
Friends of the Earth and Food Justice have inaugurated the online photographic exhibition ‘Plastívoros: comemos plástico’, through which they denounce the excessive use of plastic in all facets of life and, more specifically, in food and crop fields. In the same way, they demand from the Government a Waste Law that prohibits single-use plastics and limits plastic containers.
Artistic works, where plastic and people are the protagonists, seek to draw the attention of citizens and administrations to the serious impacts of plastic. With more than 4,000 chemical additives, among which are toxic, persistent and bioaccumulative substances, plastic causes harmful effects on health and ecosystems.
Food Justice and Friends of the Earth denounce that, despite what is usually thought, the microplastic contamination on land it is up to 23 times higher than in the seas, according to the research presented by both associations. In turn, they put on the table the amount of plastic that a person ingests a week, 5 grams, that is, the equivalent of eating more than half a plastic bag, or what is the same 52 credit cards a year.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.