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The World’s Elders to Younger Generations: ‘Enjoy Nature, or What’s Left of It’

On the International Day of Families, 15 elders around the world share their hopes for a planet where future generations can thrive.

Every May 15, the International Day of Families celebrates the foundational ties that bind us from birth. Going back generations, from parents to distant ancestors, families have always been the core of human society.

This year, on the 30th anniversary of the International Year of the Family, the theme is “Families & Climate Change.” Families often bear the brunt of climate change. Whether it’s the rise in floods, storms, droughts and wildfires, which can disrupt food systems and uproot whole communities, or the slow burn of environmental pollution, households are in the crosshairs of our warming planet.

Between 2016 and 2021, an estimated 43 million children were driven from their homes due to weather-related disasters, according to UNICEF. The good news is that families also play a key role in reversing this same devastation.

Older generations around the world hold essential wisdom to reversing the disastrous impacts of climate change, from drought mitigation to sustainable agriculture. The same goes for the indigenous families living in their ancestral lands around the world.

In fact, over 80% of the planet’s biodiversity is owned or governed by indigenous peoples, and most of that land is in good ecological condition, according to a 2023 report from the World Economic Forum.

For this year’s International Day of Families, Global Press Journal’s team of reporters struck out to ask elders in their communities about what they’ve seen and what their hopes are for future generations.

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