A WORD FROM THE CEO

Yolan Friedmann, EWT CEO

yolanf@ewt.org.za

If there is one thing that 2020 has taught us so far, it is that life can change, rapidly, and dramatically. Just when we think that we are in control of our lives and the world in which we conduct them, everything we know changes and suddenly we are forced to stay at home, refrain from touching people, change our consumer and socialising patterns and pay attention to our health as well as that of the people around us. But out of every crisis arises an opportunity and much has already been said about the impact of COVID-19 presenting an opportunity for the planet to ‘reset itself’ or for Mother Nature to ‘recover’. Regardless of whether or not you support these statements, the virus and its rapid global spread and dramatic impact on lives across the globe has certainly taught us a few things.

Number one: we are all connected, and we are all the same. Nothing drives home the point of human fallibility and commonality, regardless of race, age, gender or wealth status like a virus that attacks the lung tissue of the species known only as Homo sapiens. We are ALL susceptible and we are ALL potential carriers. The most vulnerable may suffer the most impact but the human species is the target of this virus, regardless of demographics.

Secondly, we can change. We are all capable of instant, dramatic changes to our lives, when we are forced to change. Yes, with consequences and with impacts that can devastate lives and countries. But change IS possible. So, imagine if we all worked together to effect positive, harmonious change that could in fact improve lives, make our economies more robust and sustainable and lead to equitable and just societies in which we all prosper? Don’t ever forget, we CAN change so imagine if we did this voluntarily and for the benefit of society instead only out of fear and desperation.

Third, we are a global village and what we do on one side of the world has the potential to change everything, for everyone. If climate change has not taught us this, then COVID-19 should. As much as nations base their responses to developing their trade, developmental and economic agendas on sovereignty, as well as their social-political and cultural ideologies, the consequences of these decisions can be global and far-reaching and can potentially traverse generations.

Fourth, we are resourceful beyond measure and the solutions lie within all of us. Scientists in laboratories may develop vaccines and cures, but the solutions to preventing this, and numerous other catastrophes arising out of humanity’s destruction of the earth, lie within the simple things that all people can do: Treat nature with respect, reduce our carbon emissions, ensure equitable access to resources for all, sustain functioning ecosystems, use natural resources sustainably and with future generation’s rights to them in mind; refrain from participating in the illicit, inhumane and unstainable illegal trade in wildlife; and above all, remember how little we actually all need from this earth in order to have the things that really matter.

During this time of uncertainty and risk, the EWT wishes all our followers well. We remain open for business although we are all working remotely. The EWT remains committed to working for a healthy planet that can sustain us all.

Yolan Friedmann