UN days on happiness, forests, and water are intricately connected.
Spectacular local reforestation successes improve water management and bring happiness; they connect the UN special days of 20, 21, and 22 March.
What a lovely Sunday. It started with another coffee in the sun. This time, on a table outside a cafe in Elgin Street. I tried to remember when it was the last time I actually sat on a cafe's terrace. My best guess was August last year. I missed this, and you must know by now how much I enjoy my first coffee in the early morning sun. But I do have some thoughts about the size of these coffee cups in North America. That is something for another newsletter. This was happiness, and so was the 8K run in the afternoon.
Yesterday's thoughts about happiness in this newsletter got quite a few reactions. Happiness is linked to fairness, just as the impact of climate change is easily linked to unfairness. I didn't discuss yesterday how to measure the disproportionate impact of climate change on the poor, ethnic minorities, or women. This recent article looks specifically at women. Life expectancy has been used in the past as an indicator for human development, but that doesn't say much about life's quality: survival doesn't equal happiness. A better way to measure is to use the Years of Good Life Indicator. A woman of 20 in a developed country will, on average, have 50 years of good life left. For women in the least developed countries, that is more like 15.
The International Day of Forests
I hope you like UN special days because there is more to come after yesterday's International Happiness Day. Today, Sunday (I know that you will read this on Monday unless you live in Hawaii), is the International Day of Forests. The specific focus this year is "Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being." Did you notice the linkage to yesterday's happiness theme? We don't just talk about trees. Nor is sustainable management of forests and their use of resources only good for combatting climate change and biodiversity loss. The right policies directly result in more prosperity and well-being.
Remember those Global Goals that I wrote about yesterday? They form an intricate web of interconnected challenges. You can't solve just a few of them. Sustainable management of forests directly contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The UN estimates that around 1.6 billion people depend directly on forests for food, shelter, energy, medicines, and income. But the planet is losing every year an area of forests that is about the size of Iceland. Our worldwide bad forest management accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Solve this problem, and you directly contribute to the climate change SDG, and a few more, like 'no poverty.'
World Water Day
Now let's add one more UN special day. Tomorrow, Monday (I know, those Hawaiian friends…), it is World Water Day. Water is another one of those 17 SDGs. We gave them all a number. If you see, for instance, '#SDG6' under a tweet, it will be read by the water community that follows the Water SDG. The one on climate is SDG 13, and 'no poverty' is SDG 1.
So now we have three days in a row: happiness, forests, and water. These are also closely linked.
Reforestation in Indonesia
This recent article is a good example. Sadiman is a 69-year-old Indonesian eco-warrior. More than 20 years ago, he started to plant banyan and ficus trees on the barren hills near Wonogiri, a bit east of Yogyakarta in Central Java. Their roots retain the groundwater that is now used to irrigate the fields. Once the people saw him as crazy, that has changed now that the number of harvests has increased from only once to two or three times a year. More forests retain more water, and that results in more happiness. Well done, United Nations to combine these in just three days. And well done Sadiman, for having the vision and being brave enough to withstand ridicule and do the right thing.
Reforestation in Brazil
I love these kinds of stories. Here is one more about a Brazilian photographer and his wife that showed what a small group of dedicated people achieved by reforestation in a deforested area. Have a quick look at the 'before-and-after' pictures in the article.
To end today's newsletter, I have three more things to share. First of all, a picture that I made during a short stop on today's run. A spot called Rideau Falls. You can see that there is a bit of ice left; just a week ago, these falls were still mainly frozen.
To stay with the water theme, I share two tweets at the end of this newsletter that UN-water asked me to promote. I hope you can follow a bit of the World Water Day events tomorrow and stay with the theme of water. It is so wonderful in this digital age that you can tune in to such an event.
That's it for today:
Remember to be happy.
Take care of - and enjoy - forests.
Think about the water that you use.
And remember that these three are all connected.
All your help in promoting this brand-new initiative is highly appreciated. Thanks to all that already joined or support The Planet.