New York

28 September 2016

Secretary-General's remarks at opening of "Save the Earth" exhibition [as prepared for delivery]

Good evening.  I am happy to be with you.

I thank the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Future Forest, the Korea Foundation and the World Federation of United Nations Associations for supporting this exhibition.

To achieve sustainable development we must, indeed, “Save the Earth”.

And to do that, we must address the causes and consequences of drought, desertification and land degradation. 

These environmental ills force people to migrate from marginal land.

They stand in the way of our efforts to eradicate poverty and our promise to leave no one behind.

Today, nearly 800 million people are chronically undernourished because of land degradation, declining soil fertility, unsustainable water use and drought.  

More than half of agricultural land is moderately or severely degraded.

As populations grow, we will need more land and more productivity – not less.

And as we work to feed the world, we must do so in a way that is climate-resilient and environmentally friendly.

Sustainable Development Goal 15 aims to protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.

That means we must sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, reverse land degradation and end the loss biodiversity around the world.

More than 100 countries have already agreed to set voluntary targets to end land degradation. 

And, around the world, countries have begun to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals and targets into their development plans, budgets and legislation. 

This is a good start.

But we have no time to waste.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a roadmap for a future of peace, dignity and prosperity for all.

But that vision depends on maintaining a healthy planet.

As today’s exhibit emphasizes, we all have a role to play – governments, businesses, scientists and citizens everywhere.

Together, we share one planet and one common future.

Let us nurture the land for the benefit of all.

Thank you