A recent UN report describes the severity of the earth’s triple environmental emergencies in terms of climate, loss of biodiversity and pollution. The fishermen on Kochi, Kerala use the traditional lift-net method, which has seen catches drop dramatically as a result of mechanized overfishing. High fuel subsidies make it profitable for deep-sea fishing trawlers, even when they travel great distances out to sea. By safeguarding the rights of small fishing communities and expanding the marine reserve, biodiversity and fish growth can stabilize. Photo credit: Manipadma Jena / IPSBHUBANESWAR, India, February 19 (IPS) – “Our war against nature has broken the planet. It’s pointless and suicidal. The consequences of our ruthlessness are already evident in human suffering, enormous economic losses and the accelerated erosion of life on earth, ”said António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations.
“By changing the way we view nature, we can see its true value. By reflecting this value in policies, plans and economic systems, we can direct investments in activities that restore nature and are rewarded for it, ”the UN chief told the media, while presenting the most important new report of a UN environment program (UNEP) published.
Making Peace with Nature: A Scientific Blueprint to Address Climate, Biodiversity, and Pollution Emergencies describes the severity of the Earth’s triple environmental emergencies in terms of climate, biodiversity loss, and pollution, but also provides detailed solutions by using global assessments, including those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services as well as the UNEP Global Environment Outlook report, the UNEP International Resource Panel and new findings on the development of zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19.
Without the help of nature we will not flourish, we will not even survive
“Without the help of nature we will not flourish, not even survive,” warned Guterres.
However, the UN chief was particularly confident that the commitment to climate and biodiversity will see progress as he will welcome the United States back to the Paris Agreement today, February 19th.
The “Net Zero Club” is growing, said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.
“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a moment of truth for our commitment to steering the earth and our commitment to steering the earth and its people towards sustainability. (But) the loss of biodiversity and the integrity of the ecosystem, as well as climate change and pollution, will undermine our efforts by 80 percent of the assessed SDG goals, especially in relation to poverty reduction, hunger, health, water, cities and climate, “said Anderson.
“Women make up 80 percent of those displaced by climate disorders. polluted water kills another 1.8 million, mostly children; and 1.3 billion people remain poor and around 700 million hungry, ”said Guterres.
Christian Walzer, Executive Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) for health programs and one of the co-authors of the report “Making Peace with Nature”, told IPS via email: “Intact and functioning nature is the foundation on which we must better build . Trying to separate economic recovery from a healthy environment and climate change neglects the essential fact that the solutions to these crises are closely related and mutually reinforcing. ”
He underlined how the deterioration of the ecosystem increases the risk of pathogens getting from animals to humans and the importance of a one-health approach that takes the health of humans, animals and the planet together. Walzer is a veterinarian responsible for One Health worldwide.
Economic growth has brought unequal prosperity to a rapidly growing world population, made 1.3 billion people poor, tripled natural resource extraction to harmful levels, and created a planetary emergency. For example, fossil fuel subsidies and prices that omit environmental costs encourage the wasteful production and consumption of energy and natural resources that are behind all three problems.
Guterres pointed out that governments are still paying more to exploit nature than to protect it, spending $ 4 to 6 trillion on subsidies that harm the environment. He said overfishing and deforestation are still being encouraged by countries around the world as it supports GDP growth, although the livelihoods of local fishermen and forest dwellers are being drastically undermined.
On the current growth path, the earth is moving to a global warming of at least 3 ° C this century, despite a temporary decrease in emissions due to the pandemic. More than 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species are at a significantly increased risk of extinction, and Diseases caused by pollution are currently prematurely killing around 9 million people each year.
A farmer in the Kerala hinterland applies chemical fertilizers to his rice fields. Large areas of unsustainable farming practices around the world to achieve higher food production have harmed the environment. Scientific climate-friendly methods are available and are equally productive. Photo credits: Manipadma Jena / IPS
The blueprint for solutions
The authors of the report “Making Peace with Nature” assess the links between various environmental and development challenges and explain how advances in science and bold policy choices open the way to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and a climate neutral world by 2050 can use the curve to reduce biodiversity and reduce pollution and waste.
Taking this path means innovation and investment only in activities that protect people and nature. Success requires restored ecosystems and a healthier life, as well as a stable climate.
Amid a wave of investment to revitalize the economies hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the blueprint conveys the opportunity and urgency for ambitious and immediate action. It also sets out the roles that everyone – from governments and businesses to communities and individuals – can and must play.
“2021 is a make-it or break-it year, a year of consciousness shifting,” said Guterres. 2021, with its upcoming Climate and Biodiversity Convention meetings, will be the year governments must set synergistic and ambitious goals to protect the planet.
To turn the tide of the current unsustainability, the UNEP draft contains several recommendations, some of which include that governments incorporate natural capital, measure the economic performance of both countries and companies, and set a price for carbon and fossil fuel subsidies in the trillions of dollars move. unsustainable agriculture and transportation to low carbon and nature friendly solutions.
According to the report, it is high time to develop and improve protected area networks for ambitious international biodiversity goals. In addition, non-governmental organizations can build networks of interest groups to ensure their full participation in decisions about the sustainable use of land and marine resources, the report recommends.
Financial organizations must stop lending for fossil fuels and promote the expansion of renewable energies. Developing innovative finance for biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture is now paramount.
Companies can apply the principles of circular economy to minimize resource consumption and waste, and commit to maintaining transparent and deforestation-free supply chains.
Scientific organizations can advance technologies and strategies to reduce carbon emissions, increase resource efficiency and make cities, industries, communities and ecosystems more resilient
Individuals can rethink their relationship with nature, learn about sustainability, and change their habits to reduce resource use, reduce waste of food, water and energy, and eat healthily. Two thirds of the world’s CO2 emissions are linked to households. “People’s choices are important,” said the Guterres.
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