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It's Earth Day... But Where Are We Going?

April 22nd, 2016

BY: ANDREA FEUNEKES
CEO, President and Co-Founder, Remsoft Inc.

Today, April 22, marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.  

I remember that first Earth Day well - I was 10 years old and it was my first time participating in a real "Protest March" (back then we were all about the protest marches). We made posters, carried signs and tried to raise awareness about pollution. At that time we didn't know about climate change, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and wildlife habitat. But we knew the air was less clean, garbage was piling up and our world was changing.  And so, people started to organize around it.

Now, I am not taking any credit for this - as I said, I was 10 - But it marked the beginning of my own awareness of the degradation of the environment, and it felt important to do something about it. A protest march seemed significant and fitting - and it certainly did raise awareness. Very few people at that time knew what Earth Day was, and fewer still understood.

Fast forward to today. Forty six years later - 46!!  What has changed? We are still marking Earth day, and it is a much more highly recognized day. Governments have set targets for reducing emissions, and later on today, hundreds of world leaders are meeting in New York to sign the Paris Agreement to end the fossil fuel era... But forest cover is still decreasing at an alarming rate along with wildlife habitat.

So where do we go from here?

It is estimated that today’s forests cover 31 per cent of the world’s land surface, just over 4 billion hectares. This is down from the pre-industrial revolution coverage at about 5.9 billion hectares. That’s a loss of about 32 per cent of our world’s plantation coverage… which translates to less wildlife habitat, carbon stored, water purification systems and countless other changes in our world.

So what will this look like in 2050 when the UN says the world is home to 11 billion people?

It’s no longer about what we can get to market, but how it gets there and the impact it will have, and there are a number of great organizations around the world ensuring this is done sustainably.

At a global level, there is the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a collaboration where the world’s supply chains across all sectors work to bring the world’s resources under sustainable management. In their Vision2050 report, WBCSD lays the plan by which businesses will create a more sustainable resource economy, including slowing deforestation and increasing yields from planted forests and halving carbon emissions worldwide by 2050. I encourage you to read Vision2050 here.

Locally, there are groups like Community Forest International building their Rural Innovation Campus in New Brunswick, a hacker-space where communities can incubate ideas and create their own change towards conscious agriculture and forestry. They are also doing work in Pemba, Tanzania, where they have planted more than 1 million trees since 2007. Check them out here.

Getting to 2050

We have entered the resource revolution, which means we will need to see massive investment in resource productivity. How else can we accommodate 11 billion people in a space that presently holds and feeds 7 billion inefficiently?

Here at Remsoft, we’re continuing with our own R&D, putting insights and intelligence into the hands of land managers to help move to a more sustainable world.

So as we mark yet another Earth Day - take some time out to consider how far we have come ... and how much left remains to be done.


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