Workers and world leaders unite

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Dear Planetary Steward, Dear friend of the Global Commons Alliance,

Today is May Day, known internationally as International Workers’ Day or Labor Day, a holiday celebrated by over 60 countries to recognize workers’ many achievements. We can take inspiration from the collective power of worker movements in securing a fairer deal for people – and our environment. Safeguarding the global commons requires humanity to work together across sectors at all levels to transform how we live our lives with nature.

This week, the Global Commons Alliance is meeting in Washington, DC to discuss how to best align our work and energy between now and 2030 – the absolutely critical remaining years before global deadlines including the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We may be heading faster toward irreversible tipping points than even the most pessimistic climate and Earth system boundary models predict.

Yet history shows that actions of individuals and small groups can challenge powerful forces and trigger abrupt global changes in behaviors and technologies. To bring every person into action, we need compelling science-based storylines and scenarios. While I’m excited to soon share GCA’s collective vision for the coming years, I’m already seeing impressive collaborative progress.

This progress is more urgently needed than ever. Deforestation in Malaysia is now being directly linked to outbreaks of diseases from animals to humans. This year, UK crops are down by almost a fifth due to extremely wet weather worsened by the climate crisis. Antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ are also at risk of becoming more dangerous with increases in extreme weather.

In parallel, the seeds of a better future continue to bloom. The state of Pará in Brazil has created two new conservation areas along the Amazonian coastline, placing almost all of its mangroves under federal protection. The two reserves add 184,600 acres to the largest and most conserved mangrove belt on the planet. Nature conservation efforts continue in Asia, as a new partnership called Eternal Mongolia will deliver US$198 million of investment to support Mongolia in conservation and sustainable community development for protected areas.

From coastlines to the deep seas, an annual ocean conference that took place in Athens last month raised $11.3 billion in pledges for marine conservation. But it isn’t just top down collaboration that is successfully breaking down barriers to progress. Residents of La Oroya, Peru, which is known as one of the most polluted cities on Earth, have won a landmark victory from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which has ruled that Peru was responsible for the physical and mental harm that a metallurgical facility’s pollution has inflicted on local people.

Everywhere we look, we can be motivated by people from all walks of life to redouble our efforts in piecing together the building blocks for the fairer, healthier life that everyone deserves. From workers to world leaders, we all share the global commons in common.

With all my best wishes,


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