World Environment Day 2020 calls for urgent action to protect biodiversity.
Biodiversity describes the variety of life on Earth. It encompasses the 8 million species on the planet–from plants and animals to fungi and bacteria; the ecosystems that house them; and the genetic diversity among them.
Biodiversity may be seen as an intricate web, in which each part is interdependent. When one component is changed–or removed–the entire system is affected, and this can produce positive–or negative–consequences.
Nature responds to some of the most pressing challenges faced by humans today. It provides us with oxygen, purifies the water we drink, ensures fertile soil, and produces the variety of foods we require to stay healthy and resist disease. It enables medical researchers to understand human physiology; and offers substance for developing medicines. It is the foundation of most industries and livelihoods. It even helps mitigate the impact of climate change by storing carbon and regulating local rainfall. Life on earth would not be possible without nature’s services. It is our greatest common good.
With our increasing demands, humans have pushed nature beyond its limit. In the last 50 years, the human population has doubled; the global economy has almost quadrupled and global trade has increased by about ten times. It would take 1.6 Earths to meet the demands that humans make of nature each year.
The emergence of COVID-19 has underscored the fact that, when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the system that supports human life. By upsetting the delicate balance of nature, we have created ideal conditions for pathogens–including coronaviruses–to spread.
We are intimately interconnected with nature. If we don’t take care of nature, we can’t take care of ourselves.
It’s time for Nature
Following the decisions taken by UN Member States in the Convention on Biological Biodiversity, UNEP and its partners are launching the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030), a global initiative to restore the relationship between humans and nature. UNEP is also working with world leaders to develop a new and ambitious Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to realize a 2050 Vision of Living in Harmony with Nature.
Living in harmony with nature can only be achieved if we reverse negative impact of biodiversity loss and pursue full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. World Environment Day celebrations will help build momentum and unite the global community in actions for positive change.