The Coronavirus and the Environment

    by Anne van Oorschot (AWC The Hague)

    Who could have imagined six months ago, that I and more than 150 other FAWCO members would NOT be in Luxembourg from March 20–22? Certainly not me!! It is ironic that just as Health has become our Target issue, the entire world is being shown just how drastically health problems can affect lives. Things that seemed unchangeable in many parts of the world are changing due to a virus: people are working from home, eating at home rather than going out to restaurants and bars, travelling less and going into nature for recreation since most other options are closed. The economic situations in many countries will be negatively affected due to making the changes deemed necessary to address this health crisis. It is a sobering thought that not all of us will survive this; but the majority of us will, and things will settle into a new normal in the aftermath of this period. I can’t help but thinking we need a “coronavirus” for the environment…..

    A Coronavirus for the Environment??

    Climate change is causing problems for our planet that are every bit as serious as the effects of the coronavirus: sea levels are rising to threaten the existence of some island nations and coastal countries, increased air pollution causes an increase in respiratory infections, the warmer and increasingly volatile weather has caused a rise in the severity and frequency of wildfires, hurricanes and flooding… Of the United Nations' 17 Sustainable development goals – or SDGs – six of them – one third – tie in directly to the environment.

    E SDG goals Goal 021

    E SDG goals icons individual cmyk 061SDG 07 affordable and clean energy1E SDG goals Goal 131E SDG goals Goal 141E SDG Icons 151






    The list of Environmental problems is long – and scary! – so why don’t we seem scared?? I have thought about this a lot: why are the changes that so desperately need to be made to curb the effects of climate change not being made? I think the reason lies in two factors: 1) the link between climate change and negative effects in our lives seems vague and faraway to many people, and 2) the problems seem too big and overwhelming…it’s just easier not to think about it too much. This is not the answer that is needed, and the Environment Team would like to help change that! We have four specific ideas to help you become a better environmental steward without feeling overwhelmed.

    I Am One...

    Since environmental problems permeate every country, community and household… how does one keep from becoming overwhelmed? Let me start with a quote I find helpful:


    “I am only one, but I am one.Edward Everett Hale

    I cannot do everything, but I can do something.

    And because I cannot do everything,

    I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

    - Edward Everett Hale (American Author)


    The Environment Team

    Our 2nd suggestion is the Environment Team – a group of 18 dedicated and knowledgeable women from different clubs and regions, with a range of ages and varying degrees of specific environmental education. What we all have in common is a passion to take better care of the planet on which we live. Our echo 1983515 340goal is to increase YOUR awareness of environmental issues, and offer suggestions for positive action. We do these things primarily by publishing monthly articles that are posted on the FAWCO website. Links to these articles are also combined with articles from the other Global Issues Teams and sent out in the monthly Global Issues Digest to subscribers. If you are not subscribed to this great resource, we urge you to do so!

    We also encourage YOU to help spread the word to further increase awareness. Links to articles can be forwarded to others. I personally have an Environment News group of 31 family members and friends to whom I forward our monthly articles. While I’m sure not everyone reads it every month, everyone reads some of the articles, and I do get positive comments back. Regardless of whether you are the FAWCO Rep or not, you can also increase awareness in your club by including articles in your club’s magazine or newsletter. Simply cut and paste the article, write a sentence or two of introduction, add your name to the article’s author and you have a great and informative piece to pass on to your club members. Couldn’t be easier! 

    Green Group at your club

    echo 1983513 960 720Our third non-overwhelming idea is to start an Environment Team at your club. More and more people recognize the importance of taking action on climate change – and by forming a Green Group in your club – you can help and support each other, identify local action goals and plan club events. I am aware of Environment Teams at the American Women's Group of Languedoc-Roussillon and AWC Hamburg – get in touch if you would like to hear about their ideas.

    FAWCO Grove at Trees for Life

    tree 576847 960 720Idea #4 is the re-introduction of the concept of compensating for your travel by planting trees! In cooperation with Trees for Life, a FAWCO grove has been created in Scotland where we hope members will buy trees to compensate their travel; travel to FAWCO events, of course, but – ideally – all of their travel. While eliminating air travel is a great environmental goal, it simply isn’t practical for expats living far away from their home countries. We need to be critical about the flights we take and reduce their number, and compensate for those we do make. If we all compensate by planting trees in the FAWCO grove, not only will we be doing something positive to combat climate change, but it will make what we as an organization do very visible! We are in to process of creating concise information on how to calculate and compensate via the Trees for Life – FAWCO grove. It should be posted within the next couple of weeks, so watch for it.

    With the effects of climate change becoming ever more apparent in the world, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Hopefully the Environment Team can help you statue of liberty 1746808 960 720learn the facts so you can make informed choices for positive changes. Never doubt that the personal choices each of us makes can have a big combined impact! When facing daunting global problems, women often lead the way toward solutions...and FAWCO women seem to do it with a torch in their hands to better guide the way for others.

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