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One billion people will become migrants by 2050 if we do not stop deforestation and climate change.

08/03/2019 13:20
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San Miniato, (Pisa) March 8th, 2019 – “If governments continue to delay urgent measures for climate change, by 2050 they will have to confront the migration of one billion people”. This staggering number, part of a study conducted by the Club di Roma, was at the center of the speeches in the second day of sessions of the 15th Greenaccord International Media Forum for the Protection of Nature,  ongoing in San Miniato in Tuscany.

What could become the largest diaspora of the history of humanity is caused by global warming and the extreme climate events it is causing. “These events – explained the senior expert in Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility Kaarina Rugiero – have tripled since the 80s. Floods, storms, typhoons, draughts and extreme heat waves are not just weather problems. They have in fact had an enormous social impact on mankind too. And it will cause a global emergency of conflicts, famine and epidemics”.

“This is why we must confront the reality of climate change as an immediate existential risk” Jinfeng Zhou, secretary general for the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation explained. “Yet, emissions are currently registering an insufficient decrease for a climatic mitigation action. We must intervene immediately and stop fossil flues. In China we have introduced restrictions for vehicles using fossil fuels while pushing for more renewable energies like wind and solar”.

Throughout the morning of lectures, a clear picture of the conditions of the green areas of the Mediterranean was laid out. “It is a critical area when it comes to monitoring the progression of climate changes” explained professor Scarascia Mugnozza who teaches Forestry ecophysiology at the University of La Tuscia. “30% of the world’s tourism is concentrated around the Mediterranean Sea and it contributes dangerously to the excessive exploitation of the landscape”. This is why forests “represent the most important ecological and green infrastructure in the region, with 25 thousand species and an important reserve of water and soil. Furthermore, these forests can absorb 30% of CO2” and this is why we must preserve and protect them with care, relying on the “bioeconomy that allows a sustainable management of the natural capital of our planet”. But according to a study from FAO, only 15% of the forests grows south of the Mediterranean Sea - and the numbers are dropping compared to the increase of forests in the northern regions.

The South-East Asian forests are also dangerously under pressure. Woro Supartinah, head of communication for the Network for Riau Forest Rescue, presented data on the green lungs of Inonesia. “The peatlands, who cover more than 20 million hectares of land in Indonesia, are some of the largest in the world and hold a fundamental ecological responsibility because they are precious reserves of carbon. Indonesia conserves 57% of the gigatons of carbon below its forests” the environmentalist explained.

African territories might be in worse condition, starting with Kenya where deforestation advances side by side with the “dramatic poverty conditions which especially affect women” – said Teresa Muthoni Maina Gitonga, of the International Tree foundation. “Kenya is the country with the lowest percentage of forests in Africa, only 7.2% of the territory is covered by trees and more than 80% of the territory is in desertification. For this reason, the International Tree Foundation is carrying out an ambitious project of planting 20 million trees in the Kenyan forests”.

Often, the protection of the forestry patrimony is a difficult and complex endeavor because of the lack of proper legislations. It is the case in Russia where “the laws make our work very complicated and environmental NGOs are not well regarded” said Andrey Laletin, president of the Friends of the Siberian Forests. “In Siberia we have another of Earh’s green lungs – he told the journalists attending – and forests occupy 515 million hectares, 40% of the whole territory, and give shelter to 20 indigenous populations. All of these forests grow on the permafrost: the increasing forest accidents have allowed methane gas to melt, a gas which is 30 times more dangerous compared to CO2”.

Inverting the tendency is a hard but necessary endeavor at every latitude. The contribution of the industrial sector is more than ever crucial. The most forward-thinking businesses have taken new paths, in the attempt to also erase the mistakes of the past. “Sustainability and profits must find a meeting point” Valeria Bracciale from the Innovation & Sustainability department of Enel told the attendees of the Forum. “Our C.E.O. is hard at work to integrate our businesses more and more with the proteciton of the landscape and its natural patrimony. To succeed we must work with the local communities for the safeguard of the biodiversity”.