Sustainability. Mitigation. Adaptation. As climate change continues to occur at alarming rates, these concepts have become more prevalent in our societies and in the way we plan for the future. But are they enough to reverse the damage that has already been done, or can we do more to heal our planet?

Youth for Climate – March for a better future. Brussels, 2019. Photo credit: © European Green

As we wait for life around us to return to ‘normal’, it has become clear that our ‘normal’ way of life is contributing to the many environmental challenges that we face today: increased emissions of greenhouse gases, biodiversity loss, pollution, inequality, water scarcity, food insecurity and the list goes on. This year, Earth Day inspires us with the campaign ‘Restore our Earth’. Restoring our earth means that minimising our negative impacts is not enough. Instead, the goal is to build societies where everything we do has positive impacts on the environment, the climate and each other.

Our colleagues at The Hague Academy are doing their part to make positive changes to the world around them. This includes building nature-inclusive spaces, using bikes as the main form of transportation, measuring the benefits of trees and greening their surrounding areas. However, individual actions alone will not be enough to combat climate change.

Good local governance for a better world

Our daily work also focuses on achieving policy and systemic change at all levels. Our trainings on climate adaptation, water management, and urban governance & local resilience are designed to help government institutions and local organisations around the world take action in their own contexts. We support local authorities and stakeholders with the knowledge and skills to adopt more adaptive and responsive forms of governance that can meet emerging social and environmental challenges in an inclusive, participatory and strategic way.

If not now, then when?

The message of Earth Day 2021 is clear: natural ecosystems are fundamental to the existence of all species, not just humans. Let us use this day to reconnect with nature, to move beyond business-as-usual and to begin actively restoring the ecosystems that have been lost. It is time to step up. It is time to make a change. Together we can restore our earth and make it a safer, healthier and more equitable place to live.

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Blog post by: Oscar Alvarado, Programme Manager/Trainer.

Oscar is responsible for designing, delivering and managing trainings in the fields of multilevel water governance, climate adaptation & local resilience, and sustainable development. His interdisciplinary background includes developing national community-based ecotourism strategies, as well as implementing sustainable best practices and innovative technologies in the natural resources sector. Before joining The Hague Academy, Oscar worked as a trainer in the Netherlands, Canada, Armenia, Kazakhstan Brazil and Costa Rica. He holds an MSc in Water Science and Management from Utrecht University and an MA in Environmental Security from UPEACE.