What is our legacy?

A few months ago, while diving into the subject of the causes and consequences of the forest fires in the Amazon Rainforest - I encountered a scientific paper, The rotten apples of Brazil’s agribusiness, and this is what I read:

“Although most of Brazil's agricultural output is deforestation-free, we find that 2% of properties in the Amazon and Cerrado are responsible for 62% of all potentially illegal deforestation and that roughly 20% of soy exports and at least 17% of beef exports from both biomes to the EU may be contaminated with illegal deforestation”.

So what does this specific example tell us? It tells us a story about illegal deforestation, and how it is related to our consumption and production patterns in the EU. Yet, it also shows us, on a more positive notion - that illegal practices (at least in this case), are concentrated to a few actors, and that tracing these environmentally harmful actions is possible. Perfect! But why then do we still encounter these practices? And why are we still ignoring the scientific evidence of the consequences of losing valuable forestal areas, such as those in the Amazon rainforest since it, so obviously, is related to the human lifestyle?

No one can argue that the evidence is not available. Scientists and people alike are already talking about us, humans, transcending the planetary boundaries, and how this would set in motion environmental change that would be devastating for the survival of our planet. Among these, biodiversity and climate change have already trespassed the critical threshold! Like the three folded definitions of sustainability (economic, environmental, and social development), is the planetary boundaries tightly connected and I quote Rockström et al. (2009);

“We do not have the luxury of concentrating our efforts on any one of them in isolation from the others. If one boundary is transgressed, then other boundaries are also at serious risk. For instance, significant land-use changes in the Amazon could influence water resources as far away as Tibet”

With that said, we no longer have the luxury of speaking or thinking about a linear approach to societal development. Tracking harmful practices (as in the Amazon rainforest) is possible, but it is a matter of political will, corporate responsibility, individual responsibility taking. If anything, this showcases the importance of cooperation across borders, to leave behind the illusion of sovereignty of states, and to challenge economic interests that benefit nothing more than some actors, and threatens the stability of our planet.

Since it might be apparent that some politicians and corporations lack the will to push for a change, we need to step up. Young people serve as a strong and crucial force, and to be honest - it is our future, so for what possible reason should we stay in the background? For this purpose, ReGeneration Week 2021 provides a platform for action-taking, networking, and concrete action among young people, organizations, businesses, and politicians.

Take this opportunity to participate in something not always offered, an event and meeting place where your ideas and concerns will be heard. Be part of the young generation that refuses to live in the shadows of past decisions.

Jessica Brunnberg