UN General Assembly to kick off critical year for the planet

Posted on 19 September 2019

Our planet is in crisis and science tells us that, without urgent action, it will only get worse. Ahead of the 74th UN General Assembly starting in New York this week, WWF, together with many others, is highlighting the unmissable opportunity that world leaders now have to course-correct.
New York, United States (19 September 2019) – With forest fires currently raging in Brazil, Angola, Indonesia, Russia and many other countries around the world, and climate marches planned tomorrow in dozens of cities, environmental crises are receiving unprecedented global attention ahead of the 74th UN General Assembly.

Our planet is in crisis. Since 1970, wildlife populations have declined on average by 60%, while humanity’s impact and overexploitation of natural resources has grown exponentially. The consequences for people can be seen already through increasing fires, floods and extreme weather. Science tells us that, without urgent action, they will only get worse.

WWF together with many others is highlighting the unmissable opportunity that world leaders now have to course-correct. Next year, an agreement on a new global biodiversity framework, action on climate change, a treaty for the oceans and a renewed commitment to the environment under the SDGs will be negotiated, presenting a crucial chance to place sustainability at the heart of our political, economic and social systems.

Leaders must arrive at UNGA74 prepared to put their weight behind these efforts. Their targeted action now is essential to delivering prosperous future economies and a sustainable future. 
Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International said:
“This UN General Assembly meets at the start of a critical year for our planet, and is a vital opportunity to focus global attention on the environmental emergency we face. The science is clear - ‘business as usual’ is not an option if we are to safeguard our future. Our current trajectory is destabilising our climate and pushing nature to the brink. At its core, it threatens our very survival.

“Leaders meeting in New York will in 2020 have the chance to secure a sustainable future for people and nature. The decisions they make in the next year will continue to have impacts for decades to come, and we all depend on them using this chance wisely. They must now signal their commitment to placing biodiversity at the centre of international treaties next year. Most urgently, leaders must recognise the planetary emergency we now face by working to secure an Emergency Declaration for Nature and People.”
WWF is convening a meeting of world leaders on Monday 23 September – on the evening of the UN Climate Action Summit – to discuss the environmental emergency the world is now facing and call for an Emergency Declaration for Nature and People to be made at the 75th UN General Assembly next year. 
Efforts to respond to our environmental crises can only be successful if they address their interconnected nature. The latest Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services report, released in May 2019, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land, released only last month, have reinforced understanding that efforts to combat nature loss, tackle climate change and meet the SDGs must go hand-in-hand.

Lambertini added: 
“Our climate and biodiversity crises cannot be tackled alone – they are interrelated and tackling them is fundamental to human prosperity and well-being. 

“Crucially, it’s time to realize that nature conservation is not only a moral argument but a developmental and economic imperative and the foundation needed to achieve the 2030 sustainable development goals.”
2020 is a pivotal year for the environment, where leaders have the opportunity to commit to support a strong decision for Nature & People at the UN General Assembly, as well as significantly strengthening the Convention on Biological Diversity and defining its ten year action plan, agreeing new treaties to govern the world’s oceans and to prevent plastic pollution, and to also strengthen key targets under the Sustainable Development Goals.

WWF further highlights the momentum coming from non-states actors to ensure nature is restored by 2030. A new Business for Nature coalition of businesses will be launched next week, which business from around the world can join to call for a New Deal for Nature & People, as well as committing to stronger sustainability measures in their business practices.  
Notes to Editor:

For further information:
WWF International Media team (news@wwfint.org).    

Leaders for Nature and People event:
WWF’s UNGA Leaders for Nature and People event is taking place 18:30-20:00 EDT on Monday 23 September. A media release, accompanied by images, will be available immediately after the event. For further information, including full media advisory, contact Julien Anseau (janseau@wwfint.org). 
Kids at Altamachi Protected Area, Cochabamba, Bolivia (Pre-Andean Amazon).
Kids at Altamachi Protected Area, Cochabamba, Bolivia (Pre-Andean Amazon).
© WWF / Gustavo YBARRA
© James Morgan / WWF
Amazonia colombiana.
© Viviana Londoño / WWF-Colombia
Mexico Grows as World Leader on Energy Reform and Renewables
Renewable energy
© Eka