Marking Earth Overshoot Day 2021
On the 29th of July 2021, the world reached Earth Overshoot Day, the date when our demand for ecological resources each year exceeds what the planet can regenerate in that year. Here, Adrie Fourie looks at how this impacts cities and their inhabitants.7
We have been living beyond our means for way too long, borrowing from an ever-increasingly uncertain future. We maintain the deficit of what the planet can regenerate by eliminating stocks of ecological resources, amassing waste, and trapping greenhouse gasses in the earth’s atmosphere, of which carbon dioxide makes up the vast majority. Earth Overshoot Day is hosted and calculated by Global Footprint Network. The initiative also calculates each country’s overshoot day, which is the date on which Earth Overshoot Day would fall if all humanity consumed like the people in that particular country. For South Africa, it fell on the 4th of July for 2021.
The consequences of our past actions have now started to creep into the present with increased disruption. Floods, the like of which have not been seen in a thousand years, recently hit parts of Europe and China, while Greece, Turkey and Algeria (to name just a few countries) are on fire. Yet still not everyone is ready to accept the full reality of climate change that sits behind these changes.
There are so many challenges that are being experienced by cities today, and people are at the receiving end. Whether that is a lack or loss of jobs, food and water insecurity, inadequate or no service delivery, or infrastructure that is ill-equipped to deal with extreme weather events or increasing temperatures. People need cities to be the places that protect them, that feed them and that provide them with hope.
At Solid Green, we continue to work with the City of Johannesburg and others around the EcoDistricts™ Protocol, which places Equity, Resilience and Climate Protection at the heart of how neighbourhoods or ‘EcoDistricts’ respond to the challenges they face. The protocol addresses these challenges through a system of collective impact which requires stakeholders to collaboratively define a restorative pathway toward carbon neutrality at a future date.
We need to ensure that those most vulnerable within our communities are provided with the opportunities to meaningfully participate in identifying challenges and opportunities, lead the charge in finding solutions and advocating for change, and thrive through personal and professional growth and prosperity, in order to actively contribute towards cities that will experience stronger and longer-lasting growth. Only when all people can understand, anticipate, and withstand social, economic and environmental shocks and stresses will our cities be prepared for the future that lies ahead.
And only when we focus on moving toward carbon neutrality, being mindful of living within the means of the earth today and perhaps saving a little for the rainy day of tomorrow, will we be acting as the custodians of the planet – as we should be.
If you would like to find out more about the EcoDistrict protocol and how we can use this methodology to set your development or precinct on a pathway to carbon neutrality, please contact us.