World leaders have pledged to clamp down on pollution, embrace sustainable economic systems and eliminate the dumping of plastic waste in oceans by the middle of the century as part of “meaningful action” to halt the destruction of nature on Earth.
Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, Justin Trudeau, Jacinda Ardern and Boris Johnson are among 64 leaders from five continents warning that humanity is in a state of planetary emergency due to the climate crisis and the rampant destruction of life-sustaining ecosystems. To restore the balance with nature, governments and the European Union have made a 10-point pledge to counteract the damage to systems that underpin human health and wellbeing.
The commitments include a renewed effort to reduce deforestation, halt unsustainable fishing practices, eliminate environmentally harmful subsidies and begin the transition to sustainable food production systems and a circular economy over the next decade. The leaders describe the pledge as a “turning point” by which future generations will judge their willingness to act on environmental destruction.
All signatories to the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, launched virtually in New York on Monday, have committed to putting wildlife and the climate at the heart of post-pandemic economic recovery plans, promising to address the climate crisis, deforestation, ecosystem degradation and pollution.
The announcement comes ahead of a major UN biodiversity summit on Wednesday, which will be hosted virtually from New York, and part way through negotiations on a Paris-style international agreement on nature. The speaking slots at this week’s summit are oversubscribed, with more than 116 heads of states and governments asking to address the event.
“Science clearly shows that biodiversity loss, land and ocean degradation, pollution, resource depletion and climate change are accelerating at an unprecedented rate. This acceleration is causing irreversible harm to our life support systems and aggravating poverty and inequalities as well as hunger and malnutrition,” the pledge reads.
“Despite ambitious global agreements and targets for the protection, sustainable use and restoration of biodiversity, and notwithstanding many local success stories, the global trends continue rapidly in the wrong direction. A transformative change is needed: we cannot simply carry on as before.”
The leaders also commit to ending environmental crime and cracking down on organised crime groups involved in the illicit trafficking of wildlife and timber.
Boris Johnson will speak at the pledge’s launch on Monday.
The prime minister will say: “We must turn these words into action and use them to build momentum, to agree ambitious goals and binding targets.
“We must act now – right now. We cannot afford to dither and delay because biodiversity loss is happening today and it is happening at a frightening rate. Left unchecked, the consequences will be catastrophic for us all. Extinction is forever – so our action must be immediate.”