The Coronavirus/ COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world overnight. Our priorities, at the personal, local, national and global level, must now be influenced by the need to contain and move past the pandemic. This means a massive investment in our communities and economies.
We commit ourselves to achieving a just response to the virus.
Like climate change, the Coronavirus is as much a human rights issue as it is a health or economic issue. Those countries with the weakest public health systems will suffer the most. And the poorest in each country will struggle to access the resources and health support they need.
Our response to the pandemic must have justice and equity hardwired into all our actions.
The scale of the crisis underscores the fact that neoliberalism and corporate capitalism has failed both people and planet. Despite decades of effort, it has not been able to deliver a solution to the threat of climate change. And many years of privatisation of public services, essential services, and cutting of public safety nets highlights the need to rebuild public infrastructure.
We cannot return to ‘business as usual’ capitalism once this crisis is over.
We must also remember that we are part of a global community. This cannot just be about ‘closing the borders’ and forgetting about the rest of the world. On this year's World Water Day, the UN Secretary General pointed out that more than half the global population is already at risk because of lack of access to safe water and sanitation facilities. So, while allocating huge financial packages within Australia, the federal government must not cut it's overseas aid contributions.
The UN is calling for contributions to a special fund to help poorer and more vulnerable countries respond to the virus threat. Australia needs to contribute to this fund.
We commit ourselves to solidarity and mutual aid.
In these extraordinary times, Friends of the Earth expresses solidarity with all those affected by the coronavirus. We express our immense gratitude to the healthcare workers on the frontlines facing risks in order to provide care.
We thank the researchers, the farmers, agricultural workers, shop workers, distributors, waste handlers, cleaners, and all others providing essential services.
Now is the time to support the unions that represent all frontline workers.
As with any national or global or environmental crisis, it is the poorest and most vulnerable who suffer most. We are in solidarity with people who may have lost their job or income, or who are put in an impossible position of having to choose between their health or continuing to work to pay rent and put food on the table. We recognise that the vast majority of nurses, teachers, cashiers and care-givers on the frontline are women.
We also recognise that our responses to Coronavirus are occurring on unceded First Nations land. Indigenous communities already suffer from lower life expectancies and greater health problems than the broader community.
We must work to ensure Indigenous communities receive the healthcare and resources they need to survive the pandemic.
We commit ourselves to building community resilience through actively supporting communities through the principles of mutual aid.
The rapid spread of the virus highlights how connected our world is. People and commodities travel the world quickly and constantly. One downside of our globalised world is that it has tended to create wealth in some areas and countries, and inflicted pain on other areas. Corporate led globalisation has benefited the rich and corporations while impoverishing ecosystems, many nations, and the poor and marginalised within ‘first world’ nations.
While we see the need to refund and rebuild public infrastructure, to ensure that all people have access to the resources and services they need to live a healthy and dignified life, we recognise that power must ultimately rest with local communities.
We actively support initiatives that are grassroots based, and that build solidarity, empathy, cohesion and mutual aid.
We commit ourselves to providing practical and meaningful care to those around us.
We all need to focus on caring for each other in this moment – our friends and family, our colleagues, our neighbours, and those isolated or in need. We support practical measures in our community to increase community spirit and reduce isolation: if you don’t already, we urge you to get to know your neighbours a little better, to cook for those who are sick, join a local community resilience network, and pay special attention to those who are vulnerable or isolated.
Friends of the Earth Australia staff are working from home to help prevent the spread of the virus. All who can are asked to isolate themselves and take all steps possible to avoid transmitting the virus – to help ‘flatten the curve’ and avoid tipping our hospitals over the edge of being able to provide care to those in need.
We commit ourselves to staying active during the pandemic, and working to build movement capacity to tackle other planetary issues like climate change.
The powerful responses from our governments to coronavirus show that our governments are able to listen to scientists and act on expert advice. They are able to take far-reaching action, and make vast sums of money available in response to emergencies that threaten lives and livelihoods – even when this will have economic costs. Governments have failed to show the same leadership on climate change.
For both the coronavirus and the ecological crises, we need our governments to work together and cooperate internationally to limit these threats that know no boundaries and that touch everyone. We need our governments to mobilise resources to alleviate the impact of these crises in ways which address existing inequalities and prioritise the most impacted and vulnerable people.
Friends of the Earth believes in a caring, compassionate world where we can all meet our needs within environmental limits. Our core values have always included solidarity, empathy, and equality – but never have we held them more dearly than now.
We seek to respond to the challenges we face with the best of humanity.
Take care of yourself, your community and the planet.
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