“What if the climate future was in the hands of families?”

FIGAROVOX/TRIBUNE – On April 4, 2022, IPCC experts published a new report dedicated to solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Rémy Verlyck advocates refocusing thinking about environmental issues at family level.

Rémy Verlyck is Managing Director of Think tank for sustainable families founded in the heart of the health crisis in 2021, whose aim is to reflect on the daily challenges of the 19 million families in France in order to better support them.


A few days ago, the IPCC climatologists published the third part of the sixth report dedicated to solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It ties in with the second part, which focused on vulnerabilities and capacities to adapt to the climate crisis, and the first part, which ended with faster-than-expected climate change. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sums up the common concerns: We are fast approaching the climate catastrophe. If, despite the alarming results, this issue has not managed to establish itself as the main theme of the presidential election campaign, we can only regret that the importance of the family level, the most effective, is not taken into account in the reflections on the social change necessary for the preservation of our environment .

The household is a basic socioeconomic unit in human societies. It is the gravitational center of all demographic, social and economic processes. Decisions about having children, education, health, consumption, labor market participation, migration and savings are made at household level. Understanding the trends, problems, difficulties and support needs of this entity that is the budget can only inform us of the efforts that need to be made to reach the SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda set by the Member States of the ONU , to reach.

Development goals cannot be achieved if families do not have the means to contribute.

Report of the UN Secretary-General, November 29, 2010

According to an analysis by the Pew Research Center, at the planetary scale, the average person lives in a household of 4.9 people. This number varies from 6.9 in sub-Saharan Africa to 3.1 in Europe. 38% of people share their home with their extended family (aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc.) and 33% of homes consist of two parents and their children. 4% of people live alone. In Europe the situation is different: if 26% of Europeans live in a large family, 26% also live in a household composed of two parents and their children and 13% of them live alone.

Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes anthropological evidence: “The family is the natural and fundamental unit of society and is entitled to the protection of society and the state.” In Copenhagen in 1995, the 186 countries participating in the World Summit for Social Development recognized the Recognized the importance of the family as the fundamental unit of society, emphasizing its key role in social development and the need to strengthen it, paying particular attention to the rights, abilities and responsibilities of its members.

But the report of the UN Secretary General of November 29, 2010 complained: “The importance of the family is recognized but not prioritized in development efforts. The family’s contribution to development goals is still grossly underestimated, although no one denies that the stability and cohesion of communities and societies depend to a large extent on the strength of families. In fact, development goals cannot be achieved if families do not have the means to contribute. Policies aimed at improving the well-being of families therefore promote development.Not mentioned in the last IPCC report, the family, which as the place where people live and organize their entire behavior and personal decisions, should logically be placed at the center of any political reflection.

That birth and nation share their etymological origin with nature must draw our attention when it comes to protecting our environment.

Remy Verlyck

The Larousse dictionary teaches us that the word ‘nation’ has the same etymology as the word nature: the two terms derive from the Latin verb nascor, ‘to be born’. That birth and nation share their etymological origin with nature must draw our attention when it comes to protecting our environment. The family is the nursery of the future, the place where future citizens are born and raised. It is at this level that everything happens, for the individual as well as for the country and the planet. In the same way one could analyze the word “economy” meaning “domestic rights” and emphasize the importance of the family hearth.

Experts from around the world, in a report published by Unicef ​​​​Innocenti Research Institute, have demonstrated that at least 6 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on September 25, 2015 are directly supported by the Involvement depends on families as capable agents and an effective level of intervention and community support. This report, presented to the Study Committee on Sustainable Development Goals of the National Assembly in February 2022, chaired by MP Jennifer de Temmerman, calls for reinforcement, “empowerment” or empowerment of families to multiply tenfold the results of policies implemented for each identified target.

Individuals can help mitigate the effects of climate change if they are able to address family life priorities and challenges.

Remy Verlyck

This is intuitively understandable: A weakened, impoverished family is not only a cost to the community, but also a place where the people who form it will not be able to fully fulfill their role as parents, and neither will they are unable to bring about positive changes in social development and the fight against climate change. The Covid-19 crisis has shown us its resilience, its fundamental importance. Intergenerational solidarity, telework, childcare: everything was done in the family, very often at the expense of mothers, who are overwhelmed and discriminated against in the world of work. Refuge values ​​celebrated when everything goes wrong, families are the first and last port of call.

Individuals can help mitigate the effects of climate change when they are able to address family life priorities and challenges when they benefit from good physical and mental health. In concrete terms, this means a conscious and holistic promotion of parenthood, the compatibility of work and private life, the many caregivers and an appreciation of all professions that make family life possible, from midwives to nurses by teachers. In short, a strengthening of the ecosystem of life that is humankind.

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