New York

22 September 2019

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at the Nature Based Solutions Momentum High-level Event at the UN Climate Action Summit [as prepared for delivery]

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Thank you for being here to highlight nature-based solutions for climate action.
 
The Secretary-General has stressed repeatedly that we need to do much more, and do it much more quickly, to achieve the Paris Agreement goals and the Sustainable Development Goals.That means more ambition and more action.
 
All of you in this room have the power to bring about transformation. This is what the world needs now.
 
But time is running out to keep global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees.
 
That is why this Summit and your efforts are so important.
 
Today we recognize leaders from multiple stakeholder groups -- governments, private sector, civil society and indigenous peoples -- who contributed to the Climate Action Summit with concrete proposals to increase ambition through nature-based solutions.
 
More than 150 initiatives were shared with the NBS coalition, and I commend the coalition members for making these publicly accessible through the UNEP portal and for the NBS compendium you have shared with colleagues this morning.
 
Your participation in this process and presence here today sends a powerful signal that we are all together in our battle against climate change.
 
All of you have reiterated your commitment to implement the Paris Agreement, the 2030 Agenda and to reach the objectives set out by the Secretary-General for the Climate Action Summit.
 
The Secretary-General and I deeply appreciate your leadership.
 
But we have much more work ahead of us.
 
Some are calling 2020 “a super year”. It may be our last opportunity to set the world on the path towards these goals.
 
We need to close the gap between national commitments and emission reductions. We need a clear pathway towards net-zero emissions by 2050.
 
Investing in nature brings multiple benefits: nature helps us adapt to climate change, become more resilient in the face of natural threats, produce nutritious food sustainably, create green jobs and live in cities based on a circular economy model. 
 
We have to protect our oceans and our biodiversity, and find a new way to shape our food systems that they are not the drivers of deforestation, and practice sustainable water use.
 
The good news is we have solutions.
 
As the work of the Nature-Based Solutions coalition has advanced in preparation for tomorrow’s Summit, we have seen that multiple high-impact nature-based activities are already being implemented.
 
This is not only a national effort. It is a global effort that needs partnerships with sub-national authorities, businesses, the finance sector, civil society and indigenous peoples.
 
Many studies have also shown how actions that are based on valuing nature can make a vital contribution to mitigating emissions. 
 
With sufficient investment, implementation capacity and the right governance, nature-based solutions can be scaled-up to the levels we need.
 
This will bring direct benefits to communities and can be particularly important for those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
 
This transformation will be an opportunity to bring new forms of leadership to our societies.
 
Women, youth and indigenous peoples demonstrate every day that they can implement real change: I urge you to empower them to continue doing so.
 
The United Nations, for its part, is striving to deliver as one across the various agencies working on nature-based solutions.
 
Every day we see evidence that nature has a vital role in our work.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
The challenge ahead of us is enormous, but so are our capabilities when we act together.
 
I urge all of you to respond to the Secretary-General’s call for more ambitious and faster action between now and year end 2020, when we hope to have substantially enhanced NDCs and a new bio-diversity framework for the world.
 
I look forward to working with you towards the next stop on our roadmap – COP24 -- and then on to the “super year” for people and planet – 2020 -- and the Decade of Action beyond.