Global Shapers Series: Millennial voice on Forests

Blog by: Flàvia Bellaguarda and Natalia D’Alessaandro


Forests are central to protecting the environment against natural disasters and climate change impacts. Yet deforestation rates around the world are still high: the Global Forest Watch recorded in 2017 the loss of 29.4 million hectares, the second highest recorded since the monitoring began in 2001. Increased urbanization is one of the main reasons, and it is estimated that 55% of the world population lives in urban areas, a value that can exceed 80% in some regions such as Latin America. In addition to the pressure on the land use change and means of production, the high urban population causes people to become estranged from natural environments and less aware of the impact that personal daily choices can have on natural resources and global forest maintenance.


The Decade of Ecosystem Restoration

By recognizing this challenge, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 – 2030 the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, aiming at job creation, food security and addressing climate change through a massive restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems. The Consumers Good Forum also has pledged to work with suppliers and governments to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains by 2020. In order to achieve these goals, it is necessary a full commitment of the whole society. As we all know, society is constituted by individuals, and looking through those lenses we will discuss our role and responsibilities as an individual to protect our environment.

Individual and Collective Actions Matter

The first step is the one of learning and comprehending that we belong to the planet earth and not the other way around. Satish Kumar, international peace and environment activist, says that we need shifts that can be made by each of us and he uses what he calls a new trinity for our time: Soil, Soul and Society.  All three elements are connected, and we should understand how to balance all those elements in our daily life.

An interesting way of developing a new framework of your impact in the world is to set up small goals into your daily routine and most important to understand why and how it is connected to the preservation of nature. On the internet, you can find loads of information about sustainable actions that you might think a bit overwhelming. It is interesting to search for global reports and researches made by serious institutions, which provides data that can make you more aware of the importance of changing habits – and create motivations to do it.


Measuring Our Steps

A nice and easy start to understand the impacts of your routine activities is to analyse your carbon footprint. It will show your carbon emission in different sectors of your life: travel, home, food, shopping, giving you an action plan focusing on where in your lifestyle you can start making changes.

Those changes in your lifestyle can be, for example, reducing meat consumption, avoiding food waste and buying sustainable clothes, to name a few. By understanding and changing your impacts, you can also participate in global and local movements to help inspire and spread knowledge to others. In that way, you can review the impacts of your changing behaviour in the world, learn with people who are in the same journey and improve even more your attitudes.

The figure below shows how to implement these steps for changing effectively and permanently your behavior for a more sustainable one. We propose to do it in a cycleway, making possible to evaluate the impacts of your changes and include other habits you need to improve.

Source: authors

We are running out of time, and we must find our way back to reconnect to nature and be a society that went from ego to the ecosystem. Changing behaviour and switching mindset takes courage. The best way to do it is going through this journey step by step, enjoying the process and being conscious that you are doing much more than just changing habits, you are making the world a better place.


About the Global Shapers Community
Born out of the World Economic Forum, the Global Shapers Community is a network of inspiring young people under the age of 30 working together to address local, regional and global challenges. With more than 7,000 members, the Global Shapers Community spans 369 city-based hubs in 171 countries. More information visit:
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the Tropical Forest Alliance.

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