United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday said biodiversity was declining sharply and climate disruption “approaching a point of no return’’.
Guterres stated this is his message to mark the International Mother Earth Day, a global event commemorated on April 22 annually to drum support for environmental protection.
He said although all eyes were currently on the COVID-19 pandemic, the world was facing another deep emergency: “the planet’s unfolding environmental crisis’’.
The UN chief called for decisive global action to protect the planet from both the coronavirus and the “existential threat of climate disruption’’.
Describing the coronavirus pandemic as an “unprecedented wake-up call’’, the secretary general emphasised the need for the world to use the lessons learnt to do things right for the future.
To this end, he proposed six climate-related actions to shape recovery efforts 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,’’ he said.
Guterres also emphasised the need for investment of public funds on the future, particularly in “sustainable sectors and projects that help the environment and the climate’’.
He reiterated his call for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and the need for environmental polluters to be held accountable and made to pay compensation.
“Climate risks and opportunities must be incorporated into the financial system as well as all aspects of public policy making and infrastructure,’’ he said.
In a similar message, President of the UN General Assembly, Amb. Tijani Muhammad-Bande, called for “sustainable use of planetary resources’’ in the pursuit of industrial growth.
“We must prioritise the sustainable use of planetary resources when pursuing industrial growth – notably in food production and agriculture.
“We need to protect biodiversity in our climate action efforts, industrial practices and urban expansion.
“We will only preserve Mother Earth through a paradigm shift from a human-centric society to an Earth-centred global ecosystem,’’ he said.
Muhammad-Bande, who is Nigeria’s ambassador to the UN, stressed the need for young people to be engaged in policies and programmes aimed at protecting the earth.
He called for renewed commitments by UN member states to environmental protection in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.