United Nations, Sep 30 (efe-epa).- The United Nations issued an appeal Wednesday for an end to civilization’s “war” against the natural environment.
“Humanity is waging war on nature. We need to rebuild our relationship with it,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the start of the UN Biodiversity Summit, which will include video addresses from dozens of heads of state and government.
“More than 60 per cent of the world’s coral reefs are endangered due to overfishing, destructive practices and climate change,” he said. “Wildlife populations are plummeting because of overconsumption, population growth and intensive agriculture. And the rate of species extinction is accelerating, with some 1 million species currently threatened or endangered.”
Humanity is itself part of the “fragile web” of life, Guterres said.
“Biodiversity and ecosystems are essential for human progress and prosperity,” the secretary-general said from the General Assembly podium.
He pointed to the “imbalance with nature” as a major factor in the origin and spread of diseases such as HIV-AIDS, Ebola and Covid-19.
“Sixty percent of all known diseases and 75 percent of new infectious diseases are zoonotic, passing from animals to humans, demonstrating the intimate interconnection between the health of our planet and our own,” Guterres said.
The UN chief exhorted all of the world’s governments to adopt more ambitious measures to protect the environment, which will in turn necessitate the crafting of sustainable economic models.
“The current (economic and financial) system is weighted towards destruction, not preservation,” he said.
As governments face the challenge of repairing the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, their planning should encompass “nature-based” solutions, Guterres said.
Looking back, the secretary-general expressed disappointment about the lack of follow-through by governments to keep their promises about protecting the environment.
“Ten years ago, we secured commitments that should have protected our planet. We have largely failed,” Guterres said. “But, where effort has been made, the benefits to our economies, human and planetary health are irrefutable.”
“Nature is resilient and it can recover if we ease our relentless assault,” he said.
One aim of Wednesday’s event at UN Headquarters is to spur serious negotiations ahead of next year’s 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), to be held in the Chinese city of Kunming.
Activists hope that COP15 will produce a biodiversity pact along the lines of the 2015 Paris Accord on climate.
Regarding COP15, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the summit by video-link: “I look forward to the adoption of a comprehensive, balanced, ambitious and implementable framework of action.”
“The loss of biodiversity and the degradation of the ecosystem pose a major risk to human survival and development,” Xi said.
While he reaffirmed the goal of beginning to reduce CO2 emissions before 2030 and making the Chinese economy carbon neutral by 2060, Xi did not announce any new commitments by Beijing in regard to biodiversity. EFE mvs/dr