UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday called on the international community to accelerate climate action with deeper, faster emissions cuts.
“We need accelerated climate action with deeper, faster emissions cuts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” the top UN official said in his message for International Mother Earth Day, which is observed annually on April 22.
“We also need massively scaled-up investments in adaptation and resilience, particularly for the most vulnerable countries and communities who have done the least to cause the crisis,” he said.
Warning that “our actions are laying waste to forests, jungles, farmland, wetlands, oceans, coral reefs, rivers, seas, and lakes,” the UN chief urged countries to reflect on humanity’s most important relationship, which is “our relationship with the natural world.”
“From the air we breathe to the water we drink to the soil that grows our food — humanity’s health depends on the health of Mother Earth. Yet we seem hellbent on destruction,” he said, adding: “Biodiversity is collapsing as one million species teeter on the brink of extinction. We must end these relentless and senseless wars on nature.”
The secretary-general underscored that the international community has the tools, the knowledge, and the solutions, “but we must pick up the pace.”
Guterres noted that healthy ecosystems — from oceans and rivers to forests and prairies — are also critical in the fight against climate change.
“Let’s get to work to implement the historic UN biodiversity agreement to ensure that 30 percent of Earth’s land and water is protected by 2030,” he said.
He urged governments to lead the way “at every step,” adding that corporations, institutions and civil society also have a vital role.
Guterres also called for efforts to “learn from the time-won wisdom, knowledge and leadership of Indigenous peoples, whose environmental stewardship stretches back millennia, and who hold many of the solutions to the world’s climate and biodiversity crises.”
“This Earth Day, I urge people everywhere to raise your voices — in your schools, workplaces and faith communities, and on social media platforms — and demand leaders make peace with nature,” he said. ■