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UK Speakers Consider "Who Will Protect Our Planet?"

London, United Kingdom – It has become evident that the urgency to protect our planet is reaching critical levels. On this point, perspectives from academia, business, politics and faith converge. Despite the diverse views on who should shoulder this responsibility and the strategies to employ, there is a resounding consensus that the current pace of action falls short. 

UPF-UK posed the question “Who Will Protect Our Planet?” at an event held at its offices in  London on February 27, 2024. Speakers examined the multifaceted dimensions of the threats posed by pollution and climate change to the future of our planet and the well-being of generations to come. Expert voices from various fields highlighted the issues and explored viable solutions to protect our planet.

The first guest, Mr. Otto Canon, is a consultant at the World Sustainability Organization, and co-chair of its Governance, Sustainability and Safety Audit Committee. Mr. Canon emphasized the dangers of plastic pollution, which has become an issue for the environment on a macro level for some time now. As a poignant example, he told how he lost his own dog due to a plastic bottle lid stuck in its throat. Mr. Canon said that plastic must be recycled before going to the ocean, to prevent plastic micro-particle pollution, as well as detritus washing up on beaches around the world.  

Another way to save the environment is to plant more trees, he said. He has led campaigns in Nigeria and in the UK to plant trees. He stressed the importance of personal involvement, so that individual actions will accumulate, like drops of water, to become an ocean.

The second guest, Duchess Nivin ElGamal of Lamberton, lamented the misallocation of resources, saying, “The money spent on wars can be spent to save the children of this world and the environment from the rubbish thrown in the ocean.” She expressed her concern that our descendants are going to suffer the consequences of not taking care of the natural environment.   

The third guest was Zambian philanthropist Ms. Justine Mutale, who serves as vice-chair of the National Alliance of Women’s Organizations, among other roles. She also stressed the misuse of resources, asking, “Why is so much invested to reach Mars when the Earth requires so much attention and care?"

She recalled how pure the river water was in Zambia where she grew up; now there are NGO's trying to clean up polluted rivers throughout Africa. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides have damaged the soil and the rivers and destroyed the previously fertile land. She warned against the practice of harvesting for money, while causing suffering to the environment and to future generations.

Finally, Mr. Robin Marsh, secretary general of UPF-UK, pointed out that the planet has undergone significant changes in recent decades, manifesting in rising temperatures, increased incidents of floods and heavy rains, and alarming shifts in the environment and climate. While some regions are already grappling with the consequences, it is crucial to acknowledge that the entire world is affected. He also pointed out that when nations are at war, they cannot deal with issues like climate change. Maintaining peaceful relations between nations is therefore critical to resolving shared environmental problems.

In assessing world economies, current measures of quality of life are suggesting that “human flourishing” involves more than increasing the gross domestic product. Mr. Marsh suggested that “flourishing” includes an inner quality of happiness and fulfilment that comes from living in balance with oneself, one’s family, and the wider society, and with the natural world. He holds that pollution and abuse of the environment would not occur in a world where everyone had a shared sense of purpose in their lives.    

Following these discussions, two Ambassador for Peace Awards were given. The first went to Mr. Danny Lambo, a highly successful entrepreneur and reality TV star, who is also the patron of a children’s cancer charity. The second went to Mr. Chaudhary Aurangzaib, also an entrepreneur, who works with South Asian communities, supporting charities and especially women’s empowerment.

By Rehana Ali, International Activities Officer, and Robin Marsh, Secretary General, UPF-UK February 27, 2024


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