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In Mike's view...

Dr Mike Clarke, Chief Executive of the RSPB

Image: Eleanor Bentall

Sometimes we need to find new ways of fixing old problems. Sometimes we have to recognise that the old, tried and tested solutions are no longer working, or that they aren’t working quickly enough.

So it is with the environmental crisis that the world is facing. It’s not that people haven’t tried. It’s more that the scale of the solutions haven’t matched the scale of the problem. And that gap is widening, not closing.

Working together

Conservation charities like the RSPB have been pretty good at shaping the priorities and decisions of governments.

We have also managed to shape public opinion by raising awareness of some of the world’s problems and by suggesting some answers. But we also need to start working with big businesses.

Businesses and their customers are, as we know, amongst the biggest consumers of the planet’s resources. Many businesses are also very well placed to influence the choices we make as individuals.

Big problems require big solutions. To make an impact, we have to think big

Great initiatives by any one of these sectors can’t save our planet on their own. If all three take independent action, we stand a slightly better chance.

But if we work together, combining our efforts, our influence and our expertise, we can imagine a world where our precious landscapes are no longer being lost, where our wildlife is protected and where our natural resources are being safeguarded for future generations.

Big solutions

But big problems require big solutions. To make an impact, we have to think big. And that’s why we’ve decided to join forces with the UK’s biggest retailer, Tesco, to help raise awareness of the continuing crisis of our disappearing rainforests, by raising essential funds to support vital on-the-ground conservation.

Our new partnership, Together for Trees, aims to raise over £1 million in its first year through corporate donations. This money will be spent on rainforest projects across the world, helping us to continue the challenging restoration work that we are already doing in places like Indonesia and Sierra Leone.

That’s not the whole story. Through Together For Trees, Tesco are committed to working with us to reduce the impact of their supply chains on the environment. That way, we can address a number of environmental issues at their source.

Renewed hope

The scale of the Earth’s problems can be daunting to individuals like you and me. How, you might ask, can my contribution make a difference?

Well, that’s one of the advantages of working with big corporates. Tesco’s customer base is so huge that small donations can add up to impressive, game-changing sums. Lots of small steps can help us to make giant strides towards the ambitious goal of zero net deforestation by 2020.

Will our partnership with Tesco provide a solution to an age-old problem? Not on its own, certainly. But support from a major global business and the opportunity to inspire more people to play their part can certainly give us renewed hope.

Mike Clarke, chief executive of the RSPB

In Mike's view...

The RSPB's Chief Executive, Mike Clarke, provides his opinions on the major issues affecting wildlife and the environment in this regular online column. You can read more from Mike in the quarterly membership magazine, Nature's Home.