UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for greater efforts to protect bio-diversity and step up climate action.
Virtually addressing world leaders at the One Planet Summit on Monday, the UN chief said that the process of recovery from the coronavirus pandemic offers the chance “to change course, and put humanity on a path on which it is not in conflict with nature”, while urging greater efforts by everyone to protect biodiversity and step up climate action, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Secretary-General outlined the consequences of abusing Earth and its resources.
“We have been poisoning air, land and water – and filling oceans with plastics. Now, nature is striking back: temperatures are reaching record highs, biodiversity is collapsing, deserts are spreading, (and) fires, floods and hurricanes are more frequent and extreme.
“We are extremely fragile,” Guterres warned.
Combined with the devastating effects of the pandemic and its socio-economic fallout, the UN chief reminded everyone that “as we rebuild, we cannot revert to the old normal”.
“Pandemic recovery is our chance to change course. With smart policies and the right investments, we can chart a path that brings health to all, revives economies and builds resilience and rescues biodiversity,” he said.
The Secretary-General noted that “innovations and nature-based solutions” are especially promising, and that preserving biodiversity also creates jobs.
According to the World Economic Forum, emerging business opportunities across nature could create 191 million jobs by 2030, he added.
At the same time, with a financing gap of $711 billion per year until 2030 to meet global biodiversity targets, increased and sustained financing will be crucial to transition away from polluting sectors, Guterres said.
The top UN official also urged support for the most vulnerable, who are already suffering the effects of climate change, such as the least developed countries and small island developing states.
Organised by the French government in partnership with the UN and the World Bank, the One Planet Summit brought together world leaders to commit action to protect and restore bio-diversity.
Due to the pandemic, the event was largely virtual.