His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is taking part in Rethink, a series of essays on the BBC from global voices that explores how the world could change after the coronavirus pandemic.
Appearing on the BBC World Service’s Newsday programme, the Prince discusses the future of food production and rethinking our relationship with nature. Each essay will also be available as a podcast, introduced by BBC Media Editor Amol Rajan, on BBC Sounds.
Rethink is airing across the BBC World Service, and the BBC’s UK radio stations, BBC Radio 4, and BBC 5 Live – to find out more go to:.
The full transcript of the World Service essay can be found below:
BBC World Service Rethink
As we rethink our world in the wake of the pandemic, it is increasingly clear that the health and wellbeing of people and planet are inextricably linked. To restore harmony we must put Nature at the centre of our economy – this is often described as the circular bioeconomy.
From Africa to Latin America, there are a number of excellent examples of national and regional commitments that could be transformed through this approach. Yet to succeed I believe the following actions are needed: –
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We need to restore biodiversity and we need to use Nature to drive prosperity for all. Biodiversity is declining faster than at any time in human history and nearly 1 million species are currently at risk of extinction, and we are making ourselves ever more vulnerable to future pandemics.
Natural resources like agriculture, landscapes and forests are owned by a wide range of small to large stakeholders. Better valuing these resources offers an opportunity to generate a more equitable distribution of income, jobs and prosperity.
So, we need to rethink land, food and health systems. Regenerative agriculture can enable agriculture to become a net carbon sink by restoring soil fertility. It can also address climate change, increase prosperity, revitalize rural communities and enhance human health. Regenerative agriculture nourishes the soil on which all life depends, especially the microbial life that sequesters carbon in the earth.
It implies a significant shift from industrial farming towards mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems based on small-holder organic farming. Because more people are needed to do the work, regenerative farming increases employment, helping meet demand for jobs.
To empower Nature we need to invest in her, particularly in re-forestation. Recent discoveries have revealed the essential role of forests for the global water cycle and food security. The virtues of restoring tree cover for soil and water conservation are nowhere better illustrated than in a heavily deforested country like Ethiopia.
With a pledge to restore 15 million hectares of forest and with the help of water conservation techniques such as terraces, the re-growing trees increase the water infiltration and help springs re-emerge, which reduces the walking distance to water sources and opens opportunities for irrigated horticulture and improved nutrition.
Every year, nearly 3 million hectares of forest are lost in Africa, and yet Africa is unique in that it has the largest restoration opportunity of any continent in the world, with more than 700 million hectares of deforested land.
In this regard, a real opportunity to transform the environment and millions of lives and livelihoods exists in the form of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative. This is a country-led effort to restore 100 million hectares of deforested and degraded landscapes across Africa. The same kind of ambition exists in South America in the form of the 20 x 20 initiative.
The opportunities, therefore, for scaling up restoration in ways that generate multiple benefits for local communities can be realized if concerted action is mobilized to generate the immense added value that species-rich forests can provide. Specifically, in restored and resilient landscapes, improved soil fertility, enhanced agricultural productivity and food security, reduced desertification, improved water resources, increased biodiversity and green jobs.
Therefore, with so much opportunity in front of us, let us Rethink our relationship with Nature and Reset for a better future. We have no time to waste.