All of us remember the moment that life changed–for ourselves, our communities, our countries, our world. There’s no question that COVID-19 has affected the lives of everyone, around the world, from all walks of life. As the health and economic impacts of the virus continue to unfold, we’re forced to adapt to a new normal. This process has required collaboration between governments, businesses, medical experts, and individuals. As communities come together across the world to combat the spread of COVID-19, there are significant similarities between the response needed to confront the pandemic and the global climate climate crisis.

We must approach both global crises with the same urgency and commitment. Lessons from this pandemic hurry us toward the worldwide collaboration, collective action, and the serious commitment that it will take to build a new normal in which humanity does not depend on the exploitation of our environment. 

A global effort to respond to a global problem – at all levels of society 

Neither climate change nor the pandemic respect national boundaries. Therefore, these two crises both require global collaboration at all levels of society to find solutions.

In its response to COVID-19, the world has shown that such collaboration is indeed possible, and necessary, as governments, health experts, businesses, and individuals have worked together to control the pandemic. Curtailing the spread of COVID-19 demands a response from the people in power that is immediate, enforceable, and follows the recommendations of experts.

When it comes to mitigating climate change, the people in power must be held accountable for their decisions and for the extractive practices that threaten the health of our planet. Industry leads as the number one source of global carbon emissions. And, as governments have the power to implement policy which compels industries to act sustainably, it is necessary to hold both lawmakers and corporations accountable for safeguarding the environment. 

And, as a part of this commitment, individuals play a critical role as well. In a global pandemic, one person’s actions can lead to serious health consequences for themselves and others. In the face of climate change, there is similar potential for individual actions to have exponential impact on the environment. 

It takes quick implementation of real policy, serious collaboration, and an increased social conscience to achieve meaningful change. For both crises.

Supporting the most vulnerable 

Global crises call us to especially support the most vulnerable in our societies. The actions of people outside of high-risk groups have shown the power of solidarity in curtailing the spread of COVID-19. And supporting communities of color and indigenous communities who are particularly harmed is critical.

As global temperatures continue to increase, young people, children, and future generations face the greatest threats of a warming world. With the rates of fossil fuel emissions, deforestation, and resource extraction in the hands of today’s policy makers and corporate leaders, younger generations are rising up and leading a movement that prioritizes environmental justice and protects their futures. 

At Rainforest Partnership, our environmental education programs at local schools and our campaign, Gen Z for the Trees, have created a space for the world to listen to these young voices. Through empowering younger generations with the skills to create a more sustainable future, we are fostering a platform for the leaders of the future. By ensuring their voices are heard, society can answer the question: What planet do we want to leave behind? And how do we make that vision a reality?

Reimagining the way we value our environment 

Creating change requires breaking old habits, thinking outside the box, and having the courage to imagine a better future. 

COVID-19 has taught us when there are threats to human life and wellbeing, vulnerable communities and economies suffer. Concern over the global economy similarly takes center stage as we face the consequences of a warming world. 

By preventing further climate change, supporting those most vulnerable to its effects, and developing creative alternatives for a healthier more sustainable way of life, we can ensure a more sustainable and stable economic future. 

A blueprint for collaboration, solidarity, and action

There is a lot to learn from the pandemic. The global response to COVID-19 has set a blueprint for collaborative action in the face of serious threats. It has taught us that foundational and urgent change is possible. 

Despite the intimidating struggles we face from COVID-19 and climate-change, there’s hope in knowing that the world can change. Fast. And, with the guidance of experts, we know what needs to be done. 

Now it’s a matter of learning from these lessons. And of committing to care for rainforests, plants and animals, natural landscapes, and all people on this earth. 

While life before COVID-19 may seem hard to remember, it’s important to remind ourselves that there is life after COVID-19. We have the power to envision and build a new, just, and sustainable post-COVID world.