Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for International Mother Earth Day, observed on 22 April:
On this International Mother Earth Day, all eyes are on the COVID-19 pandemic — the biggest test the world has faced since the Second World War. We must work together to save lives, ease suffering and lessen the shattering economic and social consequences.
The impact of the coronavirus is both immediate and dreadful. But, there is another deep emergency — the planet’s unfolding environmental crisis. Biodiversity is in steep decline. Climate disruption is approaching a point of no return.
We must act decisively to protect our planet from both the coronavirus and the existential threat of climate disruption. The current crisis is an unprecedented wake-up call. We need to turn the recovery into a real opportunity to do things right for the future.
I am therefore proposing six climate-related actions to shape the recovery and the work ahead.
First: As we spend huge amounts of money to recover from the coronavirus, we must deliver new jobs and businesses through a clean, green transition.
Second: Where taxpayers’ money is used to rescue businesses, it needs to be tied to achieving green jobs and sustainable growth.
Third: Fiscal firepower must drive a shift from the grey to green economy and make societies and people more resilient.
Fourth: Public funds should be used to invest in the future, not the past, and flow to sustainable sectors and projects that help the environment and the climate. Fossil fuel subsidies must end and polluters must start paying for their pollution.
Fifth: Climate risks and opportunities must be incorporated into the financial system, as well as all aspects of public policymaking and infrastructure.
Sixth: We need to work together as an international community.
These six principles constitute an important guide to recovering better together. Greenhouse gases, just like viruses, do not respect national boundaries. On this Earth Day, please join me in demanding a healthy and resilient future for people and planet alike.