Messages for 2020

Secretary-General's Message


Nature is sending us a clear message.

We are harming the natural world – to our own detriment.

Habitat degradation and biodiversity loss are accelerating.

Climate disruption is getting worse.

Fires, floods, droughts and superstorms are more frequent and damaging.

Oceans are heating and acidifying, destroying coral ecosystems.

And now, a new coronavirus is raging, undermining health and livelihoods.

To care for humanity, we MUST care for nature.

We need our entire global community to change course.

Let’s rethink what we buy and use.

Adopt sustainable habits, farming and business models.

Safeguard remaining wild spaces and wildlife.

And commit to a green and resilient future.

As we work to build back better, let’s put nature where it belongs -- at the heart of our decision making.

On this World Environment Day, it’s Time for Nature.

António Guterres

António Guterres


General Assembly President's Message

2020 marks the beginning of the Decade of Action and Delivery to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, beginning with the ‘super year’ for nature. On this World Environment Day we say It’s time for nature.

Although key events were postponed in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that we maintain momentum towards a green and sustainable future that allows us to live in harmony with nature for present and future generations.

Indeed, as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global food supplies and livelihoods, we have a key opportunity to ensure sustainable management of natural resources, and protect biodiversity, in our efforts to build back better. More than half of global GDP is dependent on nature. More than 70% of people living in poverty depend on natural resources to earn their livelihoods through farming, fishing, forestry, and other nature-based activities.

Yet every year 13 million hectares of forest area are lost, and to date 3.5 billion hectares of land have been affected by desertification. This has contributed to extinction of 8% of all known animal breeds, with 22% facing the threat of extinction.

Moreover, many fish stocks are rapidly depleting and pollution has deteriorated coastal waters. Human activities have also contributed to conditions in which viruses can be more easily transmitted between animals and humans.

Today we must recognize that irreversible declines in the natural environment present a major threat to the progress achieved over the past two decades. If we are to safeguard the environment for future generations, we must take urgent action now to implement development policies, incentives and actions.

The post-2020 biodiversity framework is the foundation for our actions today, and into the future. I call on all Member States to make evidence-based decisions towards transformational pathways for the environment to achieve all Sustainable Development Goals.

Blue and green investments over the next decade can unlock 100 million new jobs. We can no longer view environmental action as being at odds with the development agenda. It is through working together that we will succeed in delivering a sustainable, healthy, and prosperous future for all.

Thank you.

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande