#31 Our great land

Image of UN goal 15
Image by United Nations

Earth hour March 25 8.30pm was/is a landmark statement that is made across the globe about protecting the earth. Earth Hour began in Australia and now cities all over the world honour this hour by turning off lights to demonstrate how collectively we can help our planet be sustainable – big efforts can be achieved by small actions.

In light of this (see what I did there) enjoying the countdown of the 17 Global Goals the next inline is number 15, which is all about ‘life on land’.

Just like Earth Hour….

“Our actions today will define our tomorrow” Marco Lambertini, Director general WWF (The World Wide Fund for nature)

As a reminder of how important our land is one of the world’s leading CEO’s has made it his mission to seriously contribute towards the application of the Global Goals – Paul Polman (Unilever). He recently shared this cartoon, which unfortunately is one that is so true and something we collectively cannot be proud of:


“Yes the planet got destroyed but for a beautiful moment in time we created a lot of value for shareholders”

This quote takes me back to my Executive leadership research where we were encouraged to study the theories of Gestalt as a way to better understand the

‘mirrors’ of human behaviour. Gestalt theory attempts to describe how people tend to organize visual elements into groups or unified wholes when certain principles are applied.

Robin Sharma one of the global management gurus describes such mirrors in a similar way.

“Victims blame everything on everyone. But to really LEAD your life, you and I absolutely must own that all that’s in our lives right now is the result of our own actions. Every moment we’ve made has created a consequence. Every cause has had an effect…”

The United Nations Global Goal #15 is all about cause and effect. Caring for life on land ensuring that sustainability and longevity has equality for all even those without a direct related land footprint!

“Sustainability manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss”

As I spend my cause related business days connecting purpose and outcomes for the prevention of societal wicked issues I am fortunate to experience both the ‘for profit and not for profit’ lens on all the Global Goals and goal #15 shares many similarities across the sectors.

I would like to divide these commonalities into four challenges and encourage us all to find something proactive even if in the form of a micro bite size chunk action. Earth Hour is a great example of how small actions can impact the big and in a positive way.

Challenge One:

Firstly such phrases as the ‘salt of the earth’ refer to a person/thing that is thoroughly dependable and decent. It also originates from a strong belief that the earth is what sustains us and therefore must always be on a healthy trajectory rather than opposite trends that are currently showing. Just like humans require pure oxygen to breathe so does the earth require healthy soil. All produces grown in it and from it needs to have the nutrients to be equally as nourishing.

“A healthy soil is a living ecosystem in which dead organic matter form the base of a food web consisting of microscopic and larger organisms”

Who would have thought it all begins with dirt!

Unfortunately we are doing a poor job of looking after our soils. This is not only an alarming statement but just like oil soil is also non-renewable mainly due to soil formation being such a slow process. Interestingly “soil health is a linchpin we cannot ignore”.

Bite size action: We can all recycle and this is a great way to assist with the living ecosystem.

Challenge Two:

Secondly to fall in love with our land can be encouraged through great documentaries as the most recent David Attenborough’s Earth II series. Unfortunately there is a need to stop thieves from pinching the cameras and technical equipment that document and capture such images of wildlife. This is a reminder how we don’t all share the same commitment to our land and all living forms within it.

“The level and financial loss has reached breaking point and is causing us scientists to revisit how we use camera traps to prevent theft” (Meek,P 2017)

A detailed summary of an almost combat approach to hiding or defending the cameras and their stations unfortunately has done very little to dissuade the ‘would be’ thieves. Often it is not the camera itself that is of interest it is more what the ‘would be thief’ has been dong in the location that is the problem or risk from their perspective – fly tipping.

To combat this challenge and from a scientific perspective natural scientists are collaborating and sharing their data to form a collective contribution to a global improved understanding of those that share our land with us. Whilst great for science and goes some way to supporting and improving knowledge of land and its use it does not tackle or prevent the homo-sapiens who at times appear to not only be sabotaging their distant relations but the very future of their kind.

Bite size action: Play a contributing role in promoting the local, national and global campaigns that respect the land of your community

Challenge Three:

Thirdly shifting slightly from land issues to those on land there is also a challenge for those other inhabitants whose voices cannot be heard such as the animal kingdom. One of the biggest challenges is when the need to protect endangered species is in conflict and comes into contact with the lives and rights of people who live in and around the increasingly threatened locations. A great example of this is the Rhinos in Kaziranga where rangers shoot people to protect rhinos.

In an article describing the Kaziranga example recognition was made that:

“It is becoming increasingly hard to look at conservation without considering human rights and social issues”.

In this need to embrace other issues the discussion of balance becomes exasperated – on one hand awareness of needs must be held around exactly how much of the planet can be used and on the other hand how much of the planet is placed as protected areas. Kaziranga illustrates the dilemmas of contemporary conservation and is being considered as a great example of where the balance between finding sustainable futures between people and the planet can be found

The challenge of those on land comes closer to home as identified in the Australian threatened species prospectus. This prospectus was quietly released and forms part of a request for partnerships to help protect Australia’s threatened species (around $14 million per year).

As documented this does not necessary translate as a positive contribution towards Global Goal 15 as in fact it demonstrates how the Australian government is unwilling to invest what’s needed to assure the conservation of our threatened plants, animals and other organisms.

“Current annual investment of A$70 million each year is minuscule compared with the government’s revenue (0.017%) of A$416.9 billion”

Bite size action: Check out the threatened species prospectus and share with many others –spreading the word is an important part of taking action

Challenge Four:

The analysis of endangered species points to the fourth challenge of ‘land grab’ being the by-product of habitat loss. Habitat loss is often caused by damages from superpowers (big companies) and the case of urban sprawl appears to be a lesson we are not willing to learn.

“As such, today’s story of globally traded land plays out along similar lines to colonial times”

The common denominator of habitat loss or land grab is to strengthen the position of power whilst utilizing collaborators on the ground – local princelings who through enabling the transfer or power were able to enhance their own influence

“often environmental protections are rolled back in favour of economic development”

Bite size action: Ensure personal decisions are complementary for the greater group including for generations to follow – win-win for all

In summarizing these four challenges a great question is posed around. By not taking action today are you simply finding a way to abdicate responsibility? Surely an unacceptable mindset could be that if there is enough delay between a species extinction and the accountability of the actual event then blame can be avoided?

To me this dilemma speaks loudly to the need for an all sector commitment and this is exactly what the Global Goal #15 and its focus on the land brings. The time to look the other way or even point the finger to those before hand has lost any credibility – that is if it ever had some to begin with!

So even if you missed earth hour and some of the challenges that Global Goal #15 brings look too big there are small things that each of us can do to make a difference – start by repecting your/our soil and everything that comes in contact with it!





Meek, P. 2017 http://theconversation.com/how-to-stop-the-thieves-when-all-we-want-to-capture-is-wildlife-in-action-73855

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