Nature doesnt need us, we need nature. And to preserve it, is to protect ourselves. That was a clear message that resonated throughout our first ‘Reimagine’ Youth Majlis session on May 19th with guest speakers Laila Mustafa Abdullatif, DG of our partners Emirates Nature-WWF, and Ali Husain founder of Husaak Adventures.
We started the session asking our young attendees about nature and what it means to them, and many shared a new-found appreciation for nature during lock-down and definitely feel the need to reconnect with nature. The science around nature and wellbeing is clear: connecting with nature is crucial to our wellbeing, helping with both mood & health, and something like sleeping under the stars could have a huge effect in ultimately changing attitudes and behaviors. Read more about the benefits of nature for humans here. If you are struggling to connect with nature during this pandemic, you can try joining our ‘Notice Nature’ challenge for daily tips on ways you can bring nature back into your life from the comfort of your home.
When asked about which element of nature connection should be prioritized in the new normal, youth attending the session agreed that the top 3 priorities should be:
- Reduction of waste / waste management
- Reducing emissions & Climate Change
- Responsible lifestyles and consumption, including sustainable transport and travel, and diet
“We often think we are protecting nature, and nature needs us to survive. The truth is, we are protecting ourselves. The planet is resilient.” explains Ali Husain, founder of Husaak Adventures, and the attending youth agreed that stories about “nature temporarily returning” as a result of the recent quarantine have been extremely enticing. This prompted a discussion on how we should use these stories to inspire us, to create a permanent ‘new normal’ focused around a green recovery.
“The COVID-19 crisis has shown us that human health equals economic health equals planetary health” reiterated Laila Mostafa Abdullatif, and despite the deep economic crisis we are experiencing - we need to focus on how we come out of this with a great reset mindset. Investment in nature conservation now will save costs in the long run, the UAE government is supporting industry to move towards a green recovery. Sustainable living is the way forward.
The COVID-19 crisis has certainly made many of our attendees realize that we are truly over-consuming, and that we can all dial back and be more careful with our consumption. Some have already been making sustainable changes in their daily lives – and we couldn’t be prouder to hear that.
When asked how they think they can contribute to improve the situation, attending youth mentioned the following:
- Start building our economy sustainably through buying local produce
- Joining Connect with Nature and supporting youth initiatives and platforms focusing on sustainability and nature conservation
- Encouraging the people around us to adopt a sustainable lifestyle
They also highlighted that they believe that research and field work will be vital to make progress on climate mitigation and preventing climate disasters.
Changing our own behavior and our lifestyle to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly isn’t as hard as some may think. It all starts with baby steps. You can check out Emirates Nature-WWF’s blog ‘Yalla Green’ for tips on how to live more sustainably or take on our ‘Resolutions for Nature’ challenge for a more hands on approach.