More than 70% of the ice-free land surface has been altered significantly already. By 2050, land-use change will affect 90% of the Earth’s land systems if we continue with business as usual, according to the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. If we carry on the same path, a future pandemic could be even more deadly and costly in terms of lives and livelihoods.
We can, however, create a new normal with the kind of transformative changes that will enable us to re-craft our relationship with land, biodiversity and the climate system.
Some of those changes have already been highlighted in international agreements on climate, biodiversity and land degradation. These include, among others, the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification’s 2018-2030 Strategic Framework and the 2030 Agenda, a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.
Achieving the targets in these agreements will help communities to both “recover better” from Covid-19 and build a clean, green, healthy, safe and just future for all people.
In his recent speech to celebrate the 5oth anniversary of Earth Day, UN secretary-general António Guterres shared six-climate-related actions to help nations green their recovery and invest in a more sustainable and resilient future.
This vision of protecting the long-term health of our natural world is vital.
Nature provides “ecosystem services” that are essential for life. Food. Water. Pollination. The very air we breathe. Ecosystem services are worth at least $125tn (£102tn) per year. This is about 1.5 times the gross domestic product of all countries, according to the WWF and Axa Report «Into the Wild: integrating nature into investment strategies.»
Investing in land-based ecosystem services, for instance, could save up to $50bn, according to the report. The associated cost of doing nothing could be equal to 7% of global GDP by 2050.
In the new normal, climate risks and opportunities need to be incorporated into the financial system as well as all aspects of public policymaking and infrastructure.
Whatever choices we make now to help the economy recover will lock in future economic growth and development paths. Building back better, stronger and smarter means embarking on a journey where we create the conditions for nature to take care of us; a new social contract for nature.
Battling Covid-19 is often compared to fighting a war. After wars, successful leaders reimagined and built better futures for their people. The first opportunity we have to do this together is when heads of state and government meet in September at the UN Biodiversity Summit in New York.
This is the moment to set the world on the road to a more ambitious and secure future: the moment to act on a social contract for nature that recasts our fate to a healthier, more prosperous one for people and planet for generations to come. Our children deserve nothing less.
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema is acting Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Ibrahim Thiaw is Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and Patricia Espinosa is Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC.)
Information taken from: https://unfccc.int/news/historic-chance-to-find-a-new-normal-and-safeguard-our-planet