Venice and its nature during lockdown

According to the beliefs of many ancient civilisations, plagues, bad harvests and even diseases were divine punishments sent by gods enraged by the reproachful attitudes of their faithful. In the 21st century, we do not seem to have to worry about the benevolence of the beyond in order to move forward, nor do we have to wait for the whim of fate to make the best decisions.

In planetary (albeit unequal) terms, we have so far achieved the greatest economic progress, incredible levels of equality, rights and freedoms for people, and the highest average life expectancy. Thanks to countless scientific, medical and technological advances, we can certainly congratulate ourselves.

However, in order to achieve the garlands of this carousel, we have been ruthlessly mortgaging our most precious asset: our home, planet Earth.

"The global crisis caused by the Coronavirus gives us the opportunity to observe how nature behaves when humans are absent".

Nature during confinement

Seeing the amazing images that are going around the world of fish, ducks and birds - among other animals - returning to the once black and polluted waters of Venice, now clean and crystalline due to the massive confinement in the face of the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic, gives us the opportunity to reflect on how it is possible that nature can only make its way when humans are not there: have we become a stranger to our own home?

This is not the first example: it has already happened with the decommissioned area of the area contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster (1986), where, after more than three decades, some 200,000 hectares of human exclusion have allowed the repopulation of forests and wild animals, and even the reappearance of animals such as the lynx.

Venice is but the penultimate escape from the degradation of a city and its environment where insatiable and massive tourism, the overexploitation of its marine environment, the pollution of its canals and the unsustainability of its urban context have been sinking it centimetre by centimetre until this analogy becomes a literal reality, in its possible disappearance under the waters of the Adriatic. The sight of swans and fish splashing happily through the impassable Venetian canals gives a glimpse of a fine irony of how nature wants to tell us so much with so little.

Nature and organic coexistence

We could cite more examples but, all in all, it is worrying, to say the least, that our environment and its ecosystems take advantage of our absences to take back what is theirs, as if by stealth, like when your parents moved out of the flat. And I say it is worrying because our place on the planet should be an organic coexistence with our environment and not a threat.

We have to put an end to this nonsense. We18 want to take advantage of the future opportunities offered by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to make our space and our future sustainable, making our progress complicit with that of the rest of living beings.