All Our Relations


At UNEP’s Gigiri compound in Nairobi, the monkeys could join you for tea.

It is a reminder that however important our negotiations about the environment might seem, we step outside the conference room into a world full of creatures with lives of their own.

The wildlife on the grounds of Gigiri, its perpetually tended plants and trees, are sometimes jarring examples of our ineffectual efforts to structure and control the world around us.

It is a troubling reality that today all ecology is social ecology.  There is no ecosystem on Earth that is outside the direct and substantial influence of human activity.

That our recent influence has often been harmful is equally troubling.  We need to better understand our interactions with living systems more complex and subtle – and vastly more powerful – than we tend to realize.

Every day – whether we realize it or not – we are surrounded by both peril and delight as we dance with the life inside us and around us.

And, sometimes, the monkeys will join us for tea.

Written for the blog on the United Nations Environment Assembly website (for UNEA 1), Nairobi, Kenya (June 24, 2014)