young girl as one of the global poor

How to avoid the classic blah, blah, blah

Infuriation, that feeling of extreme anger and impatience, can get the better of anyone. We suffer from it almost daily but find ways around some of it…

In a speech to the Youth4Climate summit in Milan, Italy, back in 2021, Greta Thunberg let rip at world leaders and their claims to green the world’s economy. 

She stopped short of calling it all bullshit, but only just.

We have discussed why she said blah, blah, blah

So here is a specific example of what sparked her ire.

Nature 2030 will advance the package of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the forthcoming Global Biodiversity Framework and post-Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and Ocean Science, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change; and respond directly to the threats identified in the IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Global Outlooks, and the IPCC Special Reports on Climate Change and Land and on the Ocean and Cryosphere.

I know, I know, it is a quote out of context, and jargon is a necessary language in the world of international diplomacy—but seriously, so much techno-babble about targets not met and frameworks that could not hold up an egg can a person take?

The only rationale for yet more plans is if you don’t have a plan. Because if you are planless, there is no seat at the table. You have to point to a plan so that you can wave the same finger at the failure of everyone else’s plan.

Consequently, plans are two a penny and consistently achieve nothing beyond an occasional and local good news story.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have one, and here is what they say about their new plan.

The Nature 2030 IUCN Programme, for the first time, sets its ambition in a decadal timeframe (2021–2030) and is a call for mobilisation to the entire Union, through a high-level, strategic document that includes and invites contributions from the IUCN Members, Commissions and Secretariat.

You are kidding, right? 

It has taken the self-proclaimed “global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it” over 72 years to ‘for the first time’ realise that you need at least a decade to get anything done and that everyone has to be in the tent. 

The IUCN came into being in 1948. 

It is the organisation that devotes itself to protecting species and the habitats necessary for their survival and established the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. It gets involved with international conventions, partnered on the World Conservation Strategy, developed engagement with business, and even pioneered nature-based solutions.

After all that, it still fanfares a decadal approach.

What part of ecological time do you not get? Did you not hear the science saying we are in the sixth mass extinction?

Plans that essentially allow business as usual are no plans at all. They are sops to the status quo. Unfortunately, we cannot persist with the current resource use and externalities because they are beyond global limits.

This is a problem for those 1 billion or so people who are well off, Greta and ourselves included, but a catastrophe for the 2 billion people already on earth who don’t have enough and worry about how they will feed their children—just a reminder that 2 billion is the number of people alive in 1900, a decade or so before oil.

Then there are roughly 5 billion individuals in neither poverty nor wealth but would all be grateful for a few more resources. Plans that do little for these people have no chance of success.

Decadal plans are closer to ecological time, but as the opportunity for steady fixes has passed, they are overtaken by the present expediency.

Plans are passe, it’s action time.

What sustainably FED suggests

We commend Ms Thunberg for her herculean restraint. If we were her age, we would fume with unprintable expletives at the nonsense the political muppets and their conference cronies tout.

As old codgers, we just cry in our beer. 

Decades of this shit have seen us run out of rage and exhausted almost all of our cynicism.

To help you avoid our decrepitude, here are some positive suggestions for avoiding the classic blah, blah, blah 

  1. Try not to get taken in by the plans or the planners. 

Remember, they are on a global junket that is as much about the personal as the planet. It is not their fault, for we are all humans wanting to better ourselves. Attending a large international conference is a defining experience feels a lot like better.

  1. Only read the plans if they stimulate alternatives in your mind. 

All these international plans are flawed, but they will have kernels of evidence and ideas that can become actions. Look out for them.

  1. Be wary of the conservation agenda. 

Many a plan comes from the paradigm of saving the planet or the species or the koala in that tree over there. This is too narrow a reference for the true challenge of feeding everyone well. If we fail to feed the people, the critters have no chance.

Science source

Fougères, D., Andrade, A., Jones, M., & McElwee, P. D. (2020). Transformative conservation in social-ecological systems. IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM): Geneva, Switzerland.

Hero image from photo by Rainier Ridao on Unsplash


Mark is an ecology nerd who was cursed with an entrepreneurial gene and a big picture view making him a rare beast, uncomfortable in the ivory towers and the disconnected silos of the public service. Despite this he has made it through a 40+ year career as a scientist and for some unknown reason still likes to read scientific papers.

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