Create awareness and take action

We have heard enough news on how bad our environmental problems are such as global warming, plastic pollution, water pollution and air pollution, etc. We all know about it and these are not something new to us anymore. Unfortunately, no significant effective works have been done on dealing with these issues either globally and locally.

Let"s not forget that two years ago, Macau was hit by one of the worst typhoons in history, Typhoon Hato, killing 10 people and taking a toll on local businesses and economy who lost billions. No one can deny that global warming is real and proved by science for years. What is not real sadly is that there are not enough strict environmental protection policies in place and investment in green economy.

We often point our fingers at leaders who are not taking action toward the environmental issues. Forget about how useless and hopeless our government is towards the environmental pollution in the city, be it our polluted water, ever increasing amount of solid waste and polluted air, in which all of them is not up to the international environmental standard. However, only a radical change can be initiated by the power of the people through raising awareness and taking action.

Soon enough, we need to realize economic growth should not be the always top priority over the environmental damages, as we need to know we all still rely on our planet for resources and living. Therefore, the economic growth equation should include sustainability; without it we will no longer have a sustainable economy. Remember that natural disasters can destroy us in a second without limitation.

All around the world, people are demanding for a green economy (and blue economy). In August last year, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, initiated student strikes against climate change, in hopes to fight for climate change. Since then, she keeps standing outside the Swedish parliament every Friday until Sweden is in line with the Pairs Agreement. Her climate change movement has gone global. She now calls global warming an "existential crisis". Perhaps she is right, no one is treating climate change as a crisis, taking real actions toward it. The way she is questioning the world leaders not to act faster, and we all should be doing the same in Macau, put pressure on our leaders to act.

Recently, I have seen more bad news related to the environment in the city, 2 dead dolphins found in Macau water, micro-plastic found in our coasts, water pollution getting worse, more plastic trash on our coasts, etc. The awareness on how bad the environment we have in Macau is there. With the knowing, we need to urge the leaders to act and solve these issues with immediate actions.

I have also noticed the environmental awareness is growing in the city, with recent two sustainability related events, Startup Weekend Macao and Blue Platform, organized by Plataforma Macau. I was honored to be invited to give a talk on waste issue and plastic pollution in the city. We need to treat these issues as "the crisis" that we have ignored for years.

The conversations on sustainability should never end and still be going. We need to make it a social topic, make it open for discussion, so everyone is comfortable to talk about it and share green ideas. We can start it at work, at home, at school, at business, basically everywhere. The only substantial change we can make is to create awareness and build up a culture of sustainability into the DNA of our society.

Everyone has a role to play which is to take actions in their daily life, either to reduce their carbon footprint (flying less or take public transport) or eliminate the use of single-use plastics (bring their own reusables), or do clean recycling, or take part in community work such as setting up a recycling station (Macau Waste-No-Mall), organizing a beach clean up or plogging anywhere accessible to them to clean up our city. Everyone can make a difference today by creating a movement with actions. Because with green actions, we can develop a sustainable city with all the positive changes from all levels in the society.

Only when people are aware of the problems, they act. We have created those environmental problems, and we are the only solution to fix them.

Annie Lao is a Macau-based environmentalist