UN: We can still save the planet’s fragile ecosystems

11 Juni 2021

Ecosystems across the planet, from forests to grasslands to coral reefs, are in a precarious state. If we continue to fell trees, turn grasslands into agricultural land, and decimate coral reefs, many ecosystems will soon reach a point of no return.

“If we continue on our current path, we will face the collapse of everything that gives us our security: food production, access to fresh water, habitable ambient temperature, and ocean food chains,” Sir David Attenborough, the famed British naturalist and broadcaster, has warned. “[I]f the natural world can no longer support the most basic of our needs, then much of the rest of civilization will quickly break down.”

That’s the bad news. The good news is that we can still have time to reverse harmful trends and save the natural world, or at least what’s left of it, according to the United Nations.

“We are ravaging the very ecosystems that underpin our societies,” António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations has stressed, but “we still have time to reverse the damage we have done.”

Better yet: by protecting or restoring beleaguered ecosystems on land and in water, we can not only safeguard Earth’s natural resources but also create sustainable livelihoods for millions of the neediest people around the planet, the UN chief says.

“[Concerted actions] will create millions of new jobs by 2030, generate returns of over $7 trillion dollars every year and help eliminate poverty and hunger,” Guterres observed.

The key will be what we achieve over the next decade during which we can turn things around through concerted political actions, scientific research and financial investments in the environment.

This is “our final chance to avert a climate catastrophe, turn back the deadly tide of pollution and end species loss,” the UN’s secretary-general emphasized. “Everyone can contribute. So, let today be the start of a new decade – one in which we finally make peace with nature and secure a better future for all.”

This message of cautious optimism is certainly welcome these days when talk of doom and gloom tends to dominate discussions about the environment and the harm we have inflicted on our planet out of greed, negligence and ignorance over the past decades and centuries.

Admittedly, the challenges are great, but where there is a will there is a way, as the old saying goes.

“I want people to understand that [the] situation we are in is serious but there is always something we can do,” Jordan Sanchez, a 19-year-old environmental activist, stressed at a recent UN-sponsored virtual meeting during which young people from around the world called for action on the environment.

“We have to remain positive and we have to act,” Sanchez added.

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