New York

22 April 2013

Secretary-General's remarks for the Interactive Dialogue on Harmony with Nature to commemorate International Mother Earth Day

Welcome to this International Mother Earth Day. Bienvenidos a todos.

I thank Bolivia for sponsoring this dialogue on harmony with nature.

Let me begin with a few words about the recent earthquake in Sichuan province of China.

I was deeply saddened by the destruction and casualties. I extend my condolences to all those who were affected. I sincerely hope that the injured will recover quickly. The people of China have shown great resilience and solidarity. The United Nations stands with them. We are prepared to provide relief and mobilize international support to help with the recovery.


Although natural disasters are a serious and growing problem, this commemorative Day is a reminder that the Earth sustains all life.

It is chance to reaffirm our collective responsibility to promote harmony with nature.

Right now, we have to confront the hard truth that our planet is under threat.

Climate change is a real and growing problem.

Unsustainable exploitation of natural resources – often driven by greed – is eroding our planet’s fragile ecosystems.

We are losing biodiversity as more and more species disappear.

Short-sighted commercial fishing practices are depleting fish stocks.

Acidity in the oceans is threatening the whole marine food chain. 

When we threaten the planet, we undermine our only home – and our future survival.

Fortunately, millions of people around the world recognize this problem. They are part of a growing movement for sustainable development. More and more governments are hearing their calls for action.

Bolivia has adopted a legal framework that specifically protects “Mother Earth.” Ecuador’s Constitution recognizes the rights of nature. Many other countries and communities around the world are translating their respect for the environment into measures that protect it.

I have made sustainable development an overarching priority for the United Nations because this is the most fundamental challenge facing our world.

On this International Day, let us renew our pledges to honour and respect Mother Earth.

This is critical as we work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals – to improve living conditions by the year 2015. And it is essential to setting new targets beyond that date. Let us ensure that the post-2015 development agenda supports and sustains Mother Earth.

I look forward to your discussions on living in harmony with nature. And I will join you in acting on our promises.

Thank you.