30 September 2020

Deputy Secretary-General Points Out Irony of Nature-Based Solutions Being among Best Remedies to Global Heating, at Biodiversity Summit Closing

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed’s closing remarks at the Biodiversity Summit, held today:

Today’s Summit has highlighted the urgency of addressing global biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.  That concern is shared by growing numbers of people around the world.  The more than 1 million respondents of the global consultation organized for the UN´s seventy-fifth anniversary listed climate change and the destruction of the natural environment as their “most overwhelming medium- and long-term concern”.  But, to rescue the planet’s fragile tapestry of life, we need vastly more ambition and action.

The COVID-19 pandemic has again shown how ecosystem degradation, human encroachment in ecosystems and loss of natural habitats can lead to the emergence of deadly infectious diseases.  These same ills of ecosystem destruction and biodiversity loss threaten the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and the objectives of the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Whether on land or in the ocean, we can plainly see the ongoing and escalating decline in biodiversity around the world.  We have failed to meet the international biodiversity targets established in 2010, many of which were incorporated into the Sustainable Development Goals.  Today, climate disruption, from devastating wildfires to record floods, is causing immense damage to people and economies and accelerating nature loss.

Yet, the irony remains that nature-based solutions offer some of the best remedies to global heating and its impacts on societies.  That is why these nature‑based solutions need to have a place in the more ambitious nationally determined contributions that we need for long-term resilience and stability for all.

It is clear that, as the Secretary-General has said, humanity is at war with nature.  But, this Summit has also highlighted actions and commitments being made around the world to bend the curve of biodiversity loss and move towards a nature‑positive world, thus making peace with nature.

Thanks to the work of the scientific community, we know what the challenges are.  We understand the scale of this planetary emergency.  We have the tools to address many of the challenges.  We are becoming aware that the way we produce and consume is not sustainable, and it has led us beyond the planet’s environmental limits.

That is why financial systems and calculations of gross domestic product need to incorporate biodiversity in their calculations.  Conserving and sustainably managing nature is a fundamental sustainable development issue.  Our societies are intimately linked to nature, which we all depend on for security, well-being, health and survival.

The conservation, restoration and sustainable use of biological diversity are an effective anti-poverty strategy.  Protecting biodiversity is key to climate action, both adaptation and mitigation.  The bottom line is that investing in nature is investing in a sustainable future.

Today, we have heard commitments from Heads of State and Government and other stakeholders.  We have set ambitions high.  We now need to ensure these ambitions are taken forward in the multilateral system, including through the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

And we also need to ensure these ambitions are delivered on the ground — to address the drivers of biodiversity and ecosystem loss; to restore biodiversity where it has been degraded; to ensure that people benefit from the sustainable use of biodiversity; and to guarantee that urgent and ambitious action for nature is taken across all sectors.

The COVID‑19 recovery presents us with the opportunity to transform our relationship with our environment.  We should grab this opportunity and ensure that the COVID-19 recovery plans are people-centred and planet-sensitive.

As we move into the Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, it is time to deliver on our commitments to ensure that no one and nowhere is left behind.

Let us re-establish our relationship with nature and put ourselves and our home on the path to the future we want.

For information media. Not an official record.