This morning my children were rolling their eyes at me when I asked them for the umpteenth time to not throw their baggies in the trash after lunch. My oldest declared, “Mom, washing and re-using one baggy is not going to change the world.” My 11 year-old added, “The sun is going to implode one way or another.” This laissez-faire apathy is common and contributing to the Anthropocene era we’re living in, where human actions are directly influencing the climate and environment, and where selfish decisions are leading to results that lead to human insecurity across the globe.
In this age of insecurity, where COVID-19 and global warming has affected every person on the planet in some way, whether it’s physically, emotionally, economically, or all of the above, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recognizes a need for communities around the world to work together in order to achieve human security. In the announcement of the release of their new report, New threats to human security in the Anthropocene: Demanding greater solidarity, UNDP discusses these issues, but on a much larger scale than just re-using a single baggy or wearing a mask to protect others. Human security is not just about feeling secure, but being secure. The report itself argues that disconnected “efforts [that] remain largely compartmentalized, dealing separately with climate change, biodiversity loss, conflicts, migration, refugees, pandemics and data protection” are “insufficient in the Anthropocene context,” noting that it is imperative that we add “an approach based on solidarity—beyond borders and across peoples,” and become “cognizant of our interdependencies in a globalized world and our common fate on a planet undergoing dangerous changes as a result of our actions.” For example, if one country or community does not have access to vaccines, that directly affects even those countries and communities that do, not just by causing more spread of disease, but also by causing halts and disturbances in food and medical supplies and wreaking havoc on financial security.
As I told my children this morning, “Our small actions are not enough, for sure, but if everyone took action, we could make a huge impact. We’re not trying to take care of our planet for just for us, we’re doing it for our neighbors across the globe, and for future generations to come.”