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WWF-Russia joined the Overshoot Day and figured out who should pay the environmental debt to the planet

29 july 2021
On July 29, the Overshoot day, WWF-Russia gathered eco-lifestyle promoters, experts in the field of environmental economics and sustainable development to discuss the question: who and how should return the environmental debt to the planet. “A person is a part of the community and a part of the ecosystem, we must act together” - the thought that united the speakers. Together with its media partners, the organization launched an interactive mini-series and an AR-quiz on social networks. They will help to understand the main theme of the action in 2021 - responsible supply chains.
The Overshoot day comes when the resources that the planet can recreate in a year, run out. In 2021, this happened on July 29, which means that for the remaining 5 months, humanity will live “in debt” - borrowing natural benefits from the planet and future generations.
Official banner of the campaign

Who should repay the environmental debt to the planet: business, consumers or government?

How to reduce our ecological footprint and is possible at all?

WWF-Russia invited its friends to answer these and other questions: Doctor of Economics, Professor of Moscow State University Sergey Bobylev; Vladimir Gorchakov, an expert of risk assessment for sustainable business development, and Asya Mann-Mitskevich (EcoAsya), an eco-blogger and promoter of an eco-friendly lifestyle. Following the results of the online discussion on July 29, Mikhail Babenko, Director of the WWF Russia Green Economy Program, noted that “A person is not just a unit, but is a part of the community and part of the ecosystem”, all participants of the event agree with him: 

According to Sergei Bobylev, Head of the Department of Environmental Economics at Moscow State University, Doctor of Economics, Professor, we are quite capable of reducing the environmental burden on the Earth and starting to repay the debt to the planet, but for it it is important to act together. “Global cooperation and partnership is one of the UN sustainable development goals,” the professor recalled. “We can only return the ecological debt together: individuals, cities, countries – all of humanity.”

Asya Mann-Mitskevich, illustrator, author of the book "Asya and the Plastic World" and the popular instagram blog @asya.mitskevich emphasized:

“There is a misconception that evolution is based on the fact that we are all competing with each other. In fact, the whole world exists on cooperation. There is a fine example of an ant raft. An ant alone cannot swim across the water, but when they grab together, they can carry very large loads on themselves. Such an example should inspire humanity. We are neither predators nor prey, in fact we are all in this together. As for consumers, consumers are very strong “ants” who can change everything around. Take a cue from your grandmothers: it is important to consume as much as you need and try to use what you already have”.

From top to bottom, left to right: Asya Mann-Mitskevich, illustrator, author of the book "Asya and the Plastic World" and the popular instagram blog @asya.mitskevich; Sergei Bobylev, Head of the Department of Environmental Economics, Moscow State University, Doctor of Economics, Professor; Mikhail Babenko, Director of the Green Economy Program at WWF-Russia; Vladimir Gorchakov, Deputy Director of the Sustainability Risk Assessment Group, ACRA

Part of the community is business. Vladimir Gorchakov, Deputy Director of the ACRA Sustainability Risk Assessment Group, was responsible for it. Answering the question whether the introduction of “green” practices can be beneficial for business, he noted: “Being green is profitable, at least if you take into account energy efficiency - after some time you will simply begin to pay less on your bills. Will it kill the business? This will kill the model of overconsumption and mass production that has developed now - everyone will have to restructure a little. Companies will stay, they will just work differently. There are many practical examples of being cost-effective in the moment: stop buying plastic cups at the office and ask employees to bring glass or porcelain mugs. A very simple example is the transition to electronic document management”.

As part of the campaign "Follow the signs: choose the right path!" WWF Russia talks about responsible supply chains, helping to understand why some products are labeled as responsibly produced, while others are considered harmful to nature.

“Only responsible consumption and responsible production can reduce humanity's environmental debt to the planet. It is in the power of each of us to gradually change our everyday habits: for example, learn to determine how to make the chosen product cause the least harm to the environment. The ability to make the right informed choice is extremely important, because not all products have an eco-label that facilitates the selection process. This will help to significantly reduce our ecological footprint, – said Dmitry Gorshkov, WWF-Russia director. – That’s why we talk about responsible supply chains in frame of the Overshoot day 2021 campaign – to give our audience the opportunity to learn how to assess the ecological footprint of a product for themselves. Understanding which route the product took before it hit the shelf, at what stages it could harm nature – this is a tool that will help everyone to be more responsible. For example, when buy a smartphone, do we think that its production could disrupt the migration paths of fish? And the extraction of raw materials for the chair – to reduce the habitat of rare species? All this makes you wonder if it's worth buying something extra”.
Supply chain (c) WWF-Russia

To help users of social media to understand the topic of responsible supply chains, WWF-Russia together with its media partners has launched several educational projects: 

  • Starting from today, VKontakte users can watch the interactive mini-series “Pay the overshoot back” in the “Clips” section. The mini-series consist of one-minute vertical videos in which the audience makes decisions together with the main character. “Pay the overshoot back” encourages users to think about what they buy and what will happen next with these products and packaging. The creators focus on the responsibility of consumers, manufacturers and suppliers of goods. The spectator of the series helps the protagonist Lesha make decisions - his task is to fix the future, which is threatened by a catastrophe due to unreasonable consumption.
  • VOVA digital agency has developed an AR mask for Instagram specially for the Overshoot day. The mask is a blitz quiz that introduces the user to the different stages of production of a familiar product - a smartphone. Nodding his head in different directions with the help of a mask, the user answers questions and learns the real stages of responsible and "irresponsible" options for the production of the gadget. At the end of the quiz, the user is asked to find out how “green” the supply chain they have built. The purpose of the quiz is not just to entertain the supporters of WWF-Russia, but also to give people knowledge about the environmental impact of the processes of production of everyday goods using the example of a smartphone. 
  • WWF-Russia, with the help of the “People for Nature” project, implemented together with the European Union, has developed an educational test: moving along the “road” of the supply chain, the user faces a choice of direction at junctions – and the goal is to build the right route.

Promotion partners:

General partners: Arkhangelsk PPM, Procter & Gamble, X5 Group, Unilever; partners: Sveza Company, Zewa; Participants: UTS, FRECOM.

Information Partners:

OK! magazine, VK, Odnoklassniki, TikTok, ALT+ video production studio, VOVA digital agency, Maxima Telecom, Zhara FM radio station, Moscow Transport, Crocus Group. 

Photo credits: © Adriano Gambarini / WWF-US.