Our Planet’s Health Directly Linked to Human Health, Prosperity, Deputy Secretary-General Tells General Assembly Debate

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the General Assembly’s high-level thematic debate titled “Moment for Nature”, in New York today:

I want to thank the President of the General Assembly for bringing us together today for a dialogue on the interconnected environmental threats that are increasingly threatening the achievement of the sustainable development goals.

As the Secretary-General has said, nature loss is a planetary emergency.

Ecosystems are endangered, climate change is having devastating effects, and increased land, air, ocean and water pollution are impacting us all, in particular vulnerable populations.  This emergency demands a new mindset.

The health of our planet is directly linked to human health and prosperity.  Let me share three reflections.

First, a holistic approach towards addressing the drivers of this degradation.  We must consider the impacts on nature in how we address food and energy systems.  We must transform how we view and value nature and ensure that nature’s contributions to human health and well-being are acknowledged in our metrics and investment decisions.  A whole of society approach will be essential.

Second, we must strengthen nature’s capacity to protect us from hazards and extreme events.  This means accelerating implementation of national restoration policies, programmes and plans for marine and terrestrial ecosystems while creating new jobs, tackling poverty and improving sustainable development.

Third, we need to close the biodiversity finance gap of approximately $700 billion per year by 2030 and ensure the $500 billion per year of harmful subsidies are eliminated, phased out or reformed, including by repurposing and redirecting them towards incentivizing biodiversity-positive activities.  The recent World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on harmful fishery subsidies is an example of the kind of transformation we can achieve together.

There is enormous value in protecting our natural capital as nature-based solutions for planetary challenges, including climate change, food security, energy and others.

I wish this high-level thematic debate every success in its deliberations.  Let us work together to demonstrate the needed leadership and political will for nature and people, for future generations.

For information media. Not an official record.