By Jagoda Munic, director, Friends of the Earth Europe
Our world has changed overnight. Coronavirus has forced us to join together, to be in solidarity, and to organise unprecedented urgent action. The pandemic has brought the world to a standstill, unleashed extraordinary responses from governments, and confined many of us to the four walls of our homes.
In these extraordinary times, Friends of the Earth Europe expresses solidarity with all those affected by the coronavirus. We show our immense gratitude to the researchers – and especially to the healthcare workers on the frontlines facing risks in order to care.
We thank the farmers, fruit and veg pickers, shop workers, distributors, waste handlers, and all others providing essential services.
As with any national or global or environmental crisis, it is the poorest and most vulnerable who suffer most. We are in solidarity with people who may have lost their job or income, or who are put in an impossible position of having to choose between their health or continuing to work to pay rent and put food on the table. We recognise that the vast majority of nurses, cashiers and care-givers on the frontline are women.
We are all called on to care for each other in this moment – our friends and family, our colleagues, our neighbours, and those isolated or in need. This might be a good time to get to know our neighbours a little better, to cook extra for those who are sick, and pay special attention to those who are vulnerable.
Friends of the Earth Europe staff are working from home to help prevent the spread of the virus. All who can are asked to isolate ourselves and take all steps possible to avoid transmitting the virus – to avoid tipping our hospitals over the edge of coping point. That’s also how we care for each other.
We can all contribute, by cooperating with and supporting one another, by providing help where needed and reaching out to others.
The powerful responses from our governments to coronavirus are particularly revealing for environmental activists. They prove to everybody that our governments are able to listen to scientists and act on expert advice. They are able to take far-reaching action, disrupt daily life, and make vast sums of money available in response to emergencies that threaten lives and livelihoods – even when this will have economic costs.
For both the coronavirus and the ecological crises, we need our governments to work together and cooperate internationally to limit these threats that know no boundaries and that touch everyone. We need our governments to mobilise resources to alleviate the impact of these crises in ways which address existing inequalities and prioritise the most impacted and vulnerable people.
Friends of the Earth believes in a caring, compassionate world within environmental limits. Our core values have always included solidarity, empathy, and equality – but never have we held them more dearly than now.
May we respond to the challenges we face with the best of humanity. Take care of yourself, each other and the planet.