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Anyone who followed the news last week can’t have missed it. Scientists worldwide are ringing the alarm bells. Nature is deteriorating on “all fronts” at a “relentless pace”. Species are now dying out tens to hundreds of times faster than the average over the past ten million years! As many as one million of the estimated eight million species are threatened with extinction in the coming decades.

Stop reading for 1 minute now and let this message get in your brain.

According to the researchers, the loss of biodiversity is a ‘direct consequence of human activity’. This is due, among other things, to the growth of the world’s population and even more rapid growth in consumption.

So what?

The research involved 145 authors from 50 countries. Not a conclusion to be ignored carelessly. Still, you might think: so what? Maybe you don’t care about all those plants and animals. They only bother you. Bird shit on the paint of your car. Weeds in your garden. Tree roots that push up your beautiful tiled floor in the garden. A spider on the wall of your bedroom. Fruit flies. Ants. Snails. You can do without all that, can’t you?

For your own sake

Even if you think that animals and plants have no intrinsic value of their own; the right to exist, so to speak. Even then, it is good to cherish animals and plants for your own sake. We, humans, are completely dependent on nature. And that applies not only to people far away in the middle of the rainforest but also to us city dwellers in Western Europe.

All our raw materials are supplied by nature. Just like our food. Much of our daily portion of fruit and vegetables depends on pollination by insects. The fishery depends on healthy fish populations. Natural areas also have an important function: they regulate the climate, produce food and prevent flooding.

According to the researchers, the large-scale extinction of animal and plant species poses a direct threat to our living conditions.

Big words, but in short: plants and animals are also very important to you.

Not too late

Fortunately, the researchers conclude that it is not yet too late, but it is high time for action. This is why they have made a number of strong recommendations to governments. To name but a few. Reforming global financial systems to make them sustainable. Responsible technological innovation. Promoting education and knowledge systems.

I would like to add another one to that. It is time to convert the strategy of nature conservation into a strategy of nature development. And that’s more than just a word game. Worldwide, it appears that erecting fences around valuable nature areas to protect them does not work well enough. Despite all these unspoilt and protected nature reserves, biodiversity is plummeting! Why? Because we are not at all concerned with nature outside these nature reserves. After all, that is what we have the nature reserves for!

Attention to nature must therefore also be taken seriously outside the nature reserves. In all the decisions that are made. In urban planning. In agriculture. In aviation. In road construction. In logistics. In education. In the fishing industry. At your workplace. In your neighbourhood.

Nature as a serious part of the choices that are made. An end to pubescent greenery.
Nature is too important to just be protected. Nature also deserves development!

Improve the world: start!

Incidentally, this recommendation applies not only to the choices made by governments but also to all of us. There is a great deal you can do yourself. At work. In your neighbourhood. In your home.

A Sunday’s walk in nature is not enough. Create a beautiful natural garden in your backyard. Take those tiles out. Even without a front garden, you can achieve a lot with a facade garden. But also as a conscious consumer, you can have influence.

In short: nature, that’s you!

About this column:

In a weekly column, alternately written by Eveline van Zeeland, Jan Wouters, Katleen Gabriels, Maarten Steinbuch, Mary Fiers, Carlo van de Weijer, Lucien Engelen, Tessie Hartjes and Auke Hoekstra, Innovation Origins tries to find out what the future will look like. These columnists, occasionally supplemented with guest bloggers, are all working in their own way on solutions for the problems of our time. So tomorrow will be good. Here are all the previous episodes.