“Let’s protect our million stars hotel we call Home” – A Christmas Message

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A Christmas Message by EUROPARC President, Ignace Schops

Ho, ho, ho …!

Ignace Schops at the Conference in Ireland 2014 © Don MacMonagle

Jingle bells, Jingle bells … The end of 2018 is near, so for many of us, it is time to look back and reflect. As president of EUROPARC Federation, I can proudly say that as Federation we did well! Our membership grew, our projects, seminars and webinars were successful. Promising is our increased influence at the EU-level. Our experience and expertise are highly valued. And our annual conference in the Cairngorms National Park was outstanding. Thank you to the Cairngorms National Park Authority and all the members and partners who helped us to achieve a remarkable year. Last but not least a big thank you for the joint forces of the council and an excellent work of the directorate.

Alarm bells, alarm bells … 2018 was also the year where all the alarms went off!

Again! Heat waves, hurricanes, floodings, … There were again clear signals we are losing our comfort zone. With biodiversity loss and the collapsing ecosystems, we are destroying where we depend on. And apparently, the world leaders hesitate to take concrete action.

The discussions and outcomes of the COP 14 on the Convention on Biological Diversity in Sharm El-Sheikh, in Egypt, were nearly covered in the press.  Pașca Palmer, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, said:

The loss of biodiversity is a silent killer. Yet there is growing evidence that the crisis of the natural world has become as much of a threat to humankind and is amplifying the chaos in the world’s weather systems.

The special report “Global Warming of 1.5°C” was very clear.  A half of a degree less, makes a world of difference”, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Unless we become climate neutral by 2050, we will face severe problems. 

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require “unprecedented” transitions. Sadly, his words were not heard widely. The Climate COP 24 in Katowice wasn’t a success. Big nations are hesitating and don’t show a higher ambition to save ourselves and all the living species from the brink of extinction. An extra COP in September 2019 in New York will be crucial.

Launch of EUROPARC Youth Manifesto at EUROPARC Conference 2018, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

A message of hope

Refreshing and heartwarming was the intervention and respond of our children, the youth, the “next generation”. At our conference in the Cairngorms, we welcomed the “EUROPARC Youth Manifesto”, their view on the future! Yes, we need to believe in the next generations and give them everything we have!

In Katowice the 15-year-old Swedish Greta Thunberg made a fantastic and breathtaking speech, urging the world leaders to act and protect our precious planet, the million stars hotel we live in!  It is what you do, not what you say!

Let’s listen to the next generation and let’s protect were we depend on!

Merry Chrismas & Happy New Year!

Santa Schops, your president