The post-COVID opportunity for the environment

October 13, 2020

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez on a beach
Photo courtesy of Carlos Manuel Rodriguez

GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodriguez sees the setbacks of 2020 as an opportunity to reset society’s relationship with the environment and shift business-as-usual approaches toward more sustainable models. Speaking with Mongabay in an October 2020 interview, Rodriguez says the pandemic recovery presents a chance to rethink the economic system that “got us in this problem,” through “confrontative relationships between humans and nature.”

“Even though our economic model has helped many countries in the last century to do much better in social and economic terms, it has two big problems,” he said. “One is that the economic model aims for unlimited growth focused on individual prosperity. The second is that it doesn’t recognize planetary boundaries. This economic system has put us in a very delicate situation. Today’s COVID, tomorrow is going to be climate change.”

Beyond the opportunities in post-COVID recovery efforts, Rodriquez talked with Mongabay about his background, his experience navigating political divides, and his hope that younger generations will be more thoughtful, ambitious, and dedicated than older generations in combating the ecological challenges that face the planet.