I was thrilled to be in the midst of this highly unusual blend of delegates to discuss our natural environment. And I was honoured to be asked to speak at the Conference for Nature. Without a doubt the highlight was this incredible mix.
It was a unique event with the kind of gathering that even ten years ago would never have come together to consider some pressing problems. So what was it all about?
For me, the key message was that irrespective of our beliefs, backgrounds, age or knowledge, each of us has a unique part to play in making our country the leading nation on environmental issues.
But to get there, the journey must be bold, courageous, imaginative and focused. The key challenge lies with our current political landscape. We’re still coming out of a recession. We’re still led by a treasury-inspired agenda. The environment remains low on the Government’s agenda, and a change in leadership next year probably won’t change our general direction.
The momentum is down to us. As individuals, businesses and charities, we need to step on it and make a difference for nature. There has to be a collective voice from the business and environmental world to say being the greenest ever doesn’t mean a massive drop in profits. You can be planet-friendly and profitable. You can also be profitable without serious peril to our greatest natural assets.
As a faith-based NGO, A Rocha UK offers an additional dimension. This is God’s planet. That means we have a responsibility to care for his world. That may be an unpopular point of view. But it gives additional reason for us to care and to act in a way that ensures future generations have a future. Hopefully they will still hear the cuckoo and turtle dove. Hopefully they will still have the freedom to enjoy the wild places.
The key question is, how do we work together to help our Government realise the environment isn’t some little side show? It’s the real deal. What happens to our forests, parks, ancient landscapes, migrant birds and our climate has a profound impact on our well being and that of the emerging generation.
We need to press on to what the Christian message describes as a ‘higher calling’ – that of protecting and preserving all that is good on this earth.
(Blog written by Andy Lester for the RSPB – see it on their website with a video of Andy’s talk from the Conference for Nature http://bit.ly/1rwxtgw)