According to the UN, climate, biodiversity and pollution must be addressed together

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According to the UN, climate, biodiversity and pollution must be addressed together
Fri February 19, 2021

In a new report, the United Nations highlights that in order to meet more ambitious goals and achieve the 2030 Agenda, it is necessary for the entire society to promote sustainability


The world can transform its relationship with nature and tackle climate, biodiversity and pollution crises together to ensure a sustainable future and prevent future pandemics, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Program. Environment (UNEP) that offers a comprehensive plan to address our triple planetary emergency.

The Making Peace with Nature report exposes the severity of these three environmental crises based on global assessments, including those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biological Diversity and Human Services. Ecosystems (IPBES), as well as the UNEP Global Environment Outlook, International Resource Panel studies and new findings on the emergence of zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19.

The authors assess the links between different environmental and development challenges, and explain how scientific advances and bold policymaking can pave the way towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and a carbon-neutral world for 2050, while the loss of biodiversity and pollution and waste generation are halted.

According to the report, taking that path involves innovating and investing only in activities that protect people and nature. Success will translate into restored ecosystems and healthier lives, as well as a stable climate, among other benefits.

“This report lays the foundation for hope. By gathering the latest scientific evidence regarding the effects and threats associated with the climate emergency, the biodiversity crisis and the pollution that kills millions of people each year, it shows that our war against nature has destroyed the planet. However, it also shows us the way to a safer world, ”said UN Secretary General António Guterres in the report's foreword.

By transforming our perception of nature, we can recognize its true worth. (…) By recognizing nature as an indispensable ally, we can unleash human ingenuity in favor of sustainability and guarantee both our health and well-being as well as those of the planet ”, added the Secretary General.

Amid a wave of investments to revitalize economies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the report communicates the opportunity and urgency for immediate and transformative action. It also establishes the roles that all actors in society can and should play.

2021 is an especially crucial year, with two major global conferences on climate change and biodiversity, in which governments must propose ambitious and synergistic targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by almost half this decade and conserve and restore the biodiversity.

Tackling Three Planetary Threats Together
Economic expansion has brought uneven prosperity to a rapidly growing world population. As a result, 1.3 billion people live in poverty, while the extraction of natural resources has tripled to damaging levels and created a planetary emergency.

Despite the temporary decrease in emissions due to the pandemic, the planet is heading for a global temperature increase of at least 3 ° C this century, more than 1 million of the approximately 8 million species of plants and animals They are at substantially high risk of extinction, and diseases caused by pollution kill about 9 million people each year. Environmental degradation is impeding progress towards eradicating poverty and hunger, reducing inequalities, and promoting sustainable economic growth.

The report shows how these three environmental emergencies interact and have common causes, and therefore can only be effectively addressed together. Fossil fuel subsidies, for example, like prices that do not take into account environmental costs, are driving production and consumption based on the unbridled use of energy and natural resources, which is behind these three challenges. planetariums.

“By showing how the health of people and nature are intertwined, the COVID-19 crisis has underscored the need for a radical change in the way we view and value nature. If that value is reflected in decision-making, whether we are talking about economic policy or personal choices, we can achieve a rapid and lasting transformation towards sustainability, ”said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.

"Green recovery plans for economies affected by the pandemic are an unmissable opportunity to accelerate transformation," Andersen added.

The report, released ahead of the 5th United Nations Environment Assembly, presents examples of how a sustainable transformation can be put into practice and lead to prosperity, jobs and greater equality.

A far-reaching change involves rethinking the ways we value and invest in nature by integrating that value into policies and decisions at all levels, adjusting subsidies and other elements of economic and financial systems, and fostering innovation in technologies. and sustainable business models. The massive private investment in electric mobility and alternative fuels shows how entire industries recognize the potential benefits of rapid change.

The authors note that ending environmental degradation in all its forms is essential to promoting several of the Sustainable Development Goals, notably poverty alleviation, food and water security, and good health for all. An example is how sustainable intensification of agriculture and fisheries, along with dietary changes and less food waste, can help end hunger and poverty and improve nutrition and health, while conserving more terrestrial and marine natural spaces.

The report emphasizes the need for all of society to be involved in decision-making and identifies key actions that can and should be taken from all sectors to achieve a sustainable world. For example:

-Governments can include natural capital in economic performance measures, put a price on carbon, and redirect trillions of dollars currently spent on subsidizing fossil fuels or unsustainable agriculture and transportation toward low-carbon solutions.
-International organizations can promote the “One Health” approach and ambitious international goals for biodiversity, such as wider protected area networks.
-Financial organizations can stop extending loans to fossil fuel projects and develop innovative financing mechanisms for biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture.
-Businesses can adopt the principles of the circular economy to minimize resource use and waste, and commit to maintaining transparent supply chains free from deforestation.
-Nongovernmental organizations can create networks of diverse actors to guarantee their full participation in decisions about the sustainable use of resources.
-Scientific organizations can propose cutting-edge technologies and policies to reduce carbon emissions, increase resource efficiency, and increase the resilience of cities, industries, communities and ecosystems.
-People can rethink their relationship with nature, learn about sustainability, change their habits to reduce food, water and energy waste, and adopt healthier diets.

A sustainable future also means learning from the COVID-19 crisis to avoid new pandemics. The report highlights how ecosystem degradation increases the risk of pathogens passing from animals to humans, and the importance of the “One Health” approach, which considers human, animal and planetary health together.

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