In comments to a high-level virtual meeting to develop a new global framework to tackle biodiversity loss, he underlined the need for commitment, ambition and credibility.
“The future of humanity depends on our collective efforts,” he said said. “Let’s work together to preserve all life on Earth so that people and nature can benefit.”
A critical moment
The new frame will be adopted at the UN Biodiversity Conference, known as COP-15, to be held next year in Kunming, China.
At Monday’s pre-COP meeting hosted by Colombia, countries and other stakeholders shared actions and initiatives, as well as commitments, for their implementation.
Participants included world leaders, ministers, heads of international organizations and multilateral banks, women, youth and indigenous peoples.
The secretary general said they met at a critical time because “biodiversity is collapsing – and we are the losers,” pointing to degraded ecosystems around the world.
“As people and livestock penetrate further into the wild habitats, we risk unleashing terrifying new pandemics,” he warned.
Transform the relationship with nature
Mr Guterres said the world is counting on an ambitious new agreement that will transform humanity’s relationship with nature and fully reflect the value of biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, including to the global economy.
The new plan should support ecosystems that help humanity adapt and build resilience to climate change.
Empowering Indigenous Peoples
He urged governments to “shift the perverse subsidies that destroy healthy soils, pollute our waters and empty the oceans of fish to those that encourage actions to conserve nature.”
They also need to create larger and better managed natural areas to protect species, functioning ecosystems and carbon stocks for current and future generations.
“And we must protect and strengthen the leadership of indigenous peoples and local communities, whose lands comprise much of the world’s remaining biodiversity.”
Above all, the world needs commitment, ambition and credibility, he said, emphasizing that everyone should act with the understanding that protecting nature will create a fairer, healthier and more sustainable world.
“I am optimistic that this can happen, especially when I see the awareness and dedication of the young people of the world,” he said. “And I applaud the commitments that have already been made.”
However, he stressed that only bold action on the ground can end the biodiversity crisis.