An UN Landmark on Earth Day

A historic landmark has been reached in the United Nations as 175 countries signed the Paris Agreement and made their commitment in the fight against global warming, global greenhouse emissions, and climate action. I applaud and congratulate all world leaders who were a part of this ceremony and participated together in creating cohesion and unity between the international community, the private sector and civil society-all of whom are indispensible and crucial forces in tackling climate change challenges. 

Furthermore, all nations must ensure that the goals and targets of the Paris Agreement are adequately implemented at the national level.  

As Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed during the ceremony “Record global temperatures. Record ice loss. Record carbon levels in the atmosphere. We are in a race against time...The era of consumption without consequences is over. We must intensify efforts to decarbonize our economies.” I cannot agree more. It is absolutely essential that we address these challenges sooner rather than later, because humanity greatly depends on it. 

As we celebrate Earth Day as well, we must keep in mind that nature’s resources, which so many of us take for granted, are the result of  intricate interactions, over millions of years, of  millions of species that make up the Earth’s modern biodiversity. The sustainable use of this biodiversity was the primary goal of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the foundation for environmental sustainability. And yet, we are destroying our biodiversity at a faster rate than at any other period in human history. Unless we take urgent action, this trend will not be reversed, it will only accelerate. 

By undermining global biodiversity, we undermine sustainable development - both of which are being exacerbated by changing climatic conditions - a hitherto unprecedented environmental challenge.  

Because of the interconnected web of all life on earth, degradation in one area limits progress in others.  The converse is also true: improvements in one area support progress in others.

We must not take our Earth for granted. 

Let us be more cognizant individuals and think of the need for better preparedness against floods and take precautionary measures against the spread of heat-related diseases or responses to more droughts. 

As President of the 62nd session of the General Assembly, I strived to integrate and connect experts from the business sector, NGOs, academia and the UN itself in order to collaborate and join forces together. I believe that only through such collaborative efforts we can work as a unified community in finding effective solutions in these different fields.

The UN High-level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals that occurred on April 21st, 2016 is giving me the opportunity to join in support of the President of the 70th Session of the UNGA, H.E. Mogens Lykketoft in asking a new commitment for action.

In my Manifesto as a candidate for the position of UN Secretary General, I emphasized the need for identifying appropriate tools for achieving the goals set up in the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development as well as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

In this regard, it is extremely important:

- to articulate the structure of potential partnerships in achieving the SDG’s

- to prepare immediate plans of action by all stakeholders

-to reinforce the commitment to leave no one behind

-to strengthen linkages and coordination between key bodies of the UN through reform

-to give priority to eradicate poverty in all forms

-to increase ODA commitment 

22 April 2016

UN Photo/Mark Garten