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Forging a better relationship with our planet is vital – Catherine Gee


We’re living through a climate and nature crisis. The international scientific community is clear. We have less than ten years to take the radical action needed to avoid disastrous consequences for people, nature and our planet.

The tail end of 2022 has presented two massive international opportunities for world leaders to grapple with complex issues like adaptation to our changing climate, reducing our carbon emissions and loss and damage.

In November, the world’s biggest conference on climate change – the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP27) took place in Egypt. In early December the United Nations Biodiversity Conference of the Parties (COP15) is due to take place in Canada to set out a global biodiversity framework.

The overriding message that I believe is important for us to take away from these international negotiations is that we must be positive about the future. We have to believe that we can combat climate change and restore nature.

Catherine Gee, Deputy Chief Executive, Keep Scotland Beautiful

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the negatives. The fear that our ambitious climate change targets are not possible for us to meet and that niggling feeling that most people don’t care anyway. But if we focus on these negatives, then we really won’t save ourselves and our planet from catastrophe. While it is so much easier to put up defences, to say no to change and to declare that things aren’t possible, we know that no innovator or change maker ever did that.

The most forward-thinking and positive of minds will carve out a way to thrive as they seize the opportunities presented by the transition to a net zero and nature positive Scotland.

What a lot of us fail to recognise is that the planet is our life support system.

We need it. It does not need us. We take from it every day. The big problem is that we don’t give enough, if anything back. As a result, our support system is failing.

Relationships where you do all the giving and get nothing back in return fail. The giver eventually stops giving. That is what is happening to our planet – both in terms of its changing climate and the devastating reduction in its natural environment, biodiversity and the eco-systems upon which we rely. We have taken too much without giving back. Now it’s time to change the balance – to work as a team.

Approaching challenges in a positive way creates the right mindset for change and if we all take this approach, then perhaps the collective momentum that is created will make a big difference.

I have a positive vision for the future in a net zero nation with a thriving natural environment. This can only be achieved if we all actively get involved, starting by understanding more about what is going on, what the impacts are and what we can do about it. Most importantly we need to understand the crucial importance of living a little bit differently and being more respectful to our planet.

We don’t have time to procrastinate, make excuses and resist change, we must think positively and find ways to take less from our planet and give back equally, if not more.

That’s my idea of a good positive relationship.

Catherine Gee, Deputy CEO, Keep Scotland Beautiful



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