How To Fix Earths Broken Landscapes

Category: Conservation

Climate Week took place from September 23 to September 29

A week of conferences in New York aimed at devising solutions to the environmental crisis ended Saturday.

With a daylong conference aimed at devising solutions to the environmental crisis.

But the Global Landscapes Forum, held inside UN headquarters — its usual inhabitants having departed after snarling Manhattan traffic all week — was different.

The usual gathering of scientists, technocrats and academics were there, but joining them onstage were an unlikely smattering of indigenous activists, teenagers, CEOs and a farmer or two.

They were there to discuss a topic that got a lot of attention over the week: the restoration of nature.

'A human flood'

In a nod to the moment, the forum began with the words of a youth.

"Our water is alive and has a spirit," said Autumn Peltier, 15, a water activist and member of the Wikwemikong First Nation in Ontario, Canada. "We spend our first nine months in water. Flowing within us is original water, the lifeblood of Mother Earth … the same water our ancestors drank thousands of years ago."

Echoing the calls for accountability that have resounded through the youth climate movement, Peltier said, "The [Canadian] prime minister promised me in 2016 he would look after our water. I will hold him to his promise."

Peltier was followed by one of the lions of the climate movement.

"Water is a perfect way to look at the world we inhabit now," said activist Bill McKibben, founder of the environmentalist website "Think about how water flows have changed in our lifetime," he said, in a year of extreme flooding events, an unprecedented hurricane and the disappearance of glaciers.

"We need to be a human flood over this next decade, to wash away much of the old world and make room for what must now come next."

What is a landscape?

No agreed-upon definition exists for what a landscape is in the ecological sense, but generally it's taken to mean a distinct geographic region and the many land types, land uses and people who live within it.

What followed was a chorus of voices from unlikely corners laying out what's really happening in the world of "landscapes" — and how to restore them.