President's View: Bold Blueprint for the New Year

Now is the time to seize the opportunity for action.

  • Collin O’Mara, President & CEO of the National Wildlife Federation
  • Conservation
  • Dec 01, 2020

Spring breaks in South Dakota’s Badlands National Park. New restoration jobs will benefit such habitats.

THE YEAR 2020 LAID BARE five historic challenges facing our nation: a global pandemic, massive unemployment, climate change, a biodiversity crisis and racial injustice. It’s not enough to merely diagnose these problems. In 2021, we must enact bold solutions that address their intersectional root causes. 

Our top priority at the National Wildlife Federation will be working across party lines to enact a significant economic recovery package that equitably puts tens of millions of Americans back to work in ways that address all five historic challenges. Here are the key elements of our plan:

Create restoration jobs. The best way to get the U.S. economy moving again is to offer millions of Americans—especially youth of all backgrounds—jobs in a 21st century Civilian Conservation Corps. The work will improve degraded wildlife habitat; restore and reconnect forests, grasslands and wetlands; clean up waterways; improve recreational areas; make communities more resilient to climate impacts and remediate environmental injustices. Additional jobs will be created when we successfully enact the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, visionary legislation that will help save more than 12,000 species of greatest conservation need. 

Confront climate change. After another year of devastating hurricanes, floods and wildfires, the imperative for climate action has never been greater. We need a transformative down payment toward achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by reducing pollution in every sector—including energy, transportation, manufacturing and agriculture—complemented by investments in natural climate solutions

Advance environmental justice. The pandemic has revealed how long-standing environmental injustices make Black, Brown and Indigenous communities much more susceptible to contracting and dying from COVID-19. We are working with hundreds of frontline partners to secure significant investments that will help remove pollution from air, water and soil; improve public health and help revitalize vulnerable communities across America. 

Prevent future pandemics. COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease, caused by a virus passed from animals to people. We’ll help prevent the outbreak of future zoonotic diseases by restoring wildlife habitat and reducing human contact through the closure of wild animal markets and ending unregulated trafficking.

They say that within every crisis lies opportunity. We’re facing several painful crises. Now is the time to seize the opportunity for action.

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More from National Wildlife magazine and the National Wildlife Federation:

The National Wildlife Federation Helping Families through the COVID-19 Outbreak »
COVID-19 Wildlife and Economic Recovery Town Hall »
Read Last Issue's President's View »

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