One Planet Summit: Leaders take action for human and planetary health, but step change still urgently needed

Posted on 11 January 2021

Key developments included governments' announcement to earmark 30% of their climate funding to nature-based solutions and the launch of the first global initiative to help prevent the next pandemic by reducing pressures on biodiversity

PARIS, France (11 January) – World leaders have today highlighted the destruction of nature as increasing the risk of future pandemics at the One Planet Summit for Biodiversity, at which they kickstarted action on biodiversity ahead of critical environment talks.

Leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres met largely virtually for the event, which was hosted by the French government, UN and World Bank. 

Key developments included the announcement by the UK and French governments to earmark 30% of their overseas public climate funding to nature-based solutions, additional financial commitments from Norway & Germany, and the launch of the PREZODE initiative, the first global initiative to help prevent the next pandemic through collaborative research and reducing pressures on biodiversity. More than $14 billion in current and new funding was also committed for Africa's Great Green Wall.

WWF welcomes the summit’s outcomes as providing important global momentum on nature ahead of the adoption of a new global biodiversity agreement in Kunming, China, and critical climate talks in Glasgow, UK, both due to take place later this year. At the same time, concern is growing that governments are not acting at pace with the widely acknowledged interconnected biodiversity, climate and health crises.

Marco Lambertini, Director-General of WWF-International, said:

“The initiatives and funding announced at the One Planet Summit provide critical momentum on nature ahead of major global environmental agreements to be made later this year and, crucially, start the process of turning commitments into action. However, a step change in both ambition and urgency is still needed if we are to secure a sustainable future for both people and the planet.

“Science tells us that our broken relationship with nature is increasing our vulnerability to pandemics, threatening our economies, and undermining our efforts to tackle the climate crisis. Never has the need for urgent action been clearer, but world leaders are yet to demonstrate that they have grasped the scale of the crisis at hand. We urge them to take the necessary steps to deliver a transformative biodiversity agreement in Kunming that secures a nature-positive world this decade while supporting climate action.”  

Commenting on the 30% commitments from the UK and France, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF International global lead for climate and energy said: 

“Nature-based Solutions represent up to a third of the mitigation action needed to tackle climate change while having a key impact on job creation, people’s climate resilience, and the protection of biodiversity. These announcements represent a clear signal that countries want to ensure nature-based solutions are strongly represented in the 2021 agenda. 

“We must recognize that current climate finance is wholly insufficient to ensure meeting the goals of the Paris accord. So we urge all countries to announce new and additional public finance commitments for Nature-based Solutions, renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

Human activities are currently causing a catastrophic loss of nature. A WWF report published in September revealed that on average vertebrate populations have declined by two-thirds since 1970 - with the factors believed to increase the planet’s vulnerability to pandemics - including land-use change and the use and trade of wildlife - some of the main drivers of the decline.

Commenting on the new PREZODE initiative announced today, Gavin Edwards, Global Coordinator, New Deal for Nature and People, said:

“WWF welcomes the announcement of the PREZODE initiative - the first global initiative to help prevent the next pandemic through collaborative research and by reducing pressures on nature - at today’s One Planet Summit in Paris. Linking the health of people, animals and our shared environment under a One Health approach can drive governments to take stronger and more urgent action for wildlife, and to tackle the ongoing loss of nature through unsustainable agriculture. While the world is still within the grip of the worst pandemic in a century, never has it been more important that we do everything we can to prevent the next one.”

WWF welcomes the leadership shown by more than 50 countries in the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People launched at the One Planet Summit, which is committing to protecting 30% of their lands and water by 2030 and advocating for this goal at a global level. However, we strongly believe that in realising this goal, indigenous peoples and local communities rights must be respected and secured and that they benefit from these conservation efforts. Upholding human rights while protecting intact spaces is critical to reversing biodiversity loss and helping prevent the next pandemic.

WWF also warns that spatial targets alone will not be sufficient unless all countries raise their ambition and accelerated action to transform the sectors that drive biodiversity loss, most notably the agriculture and land-use sectors, as well as align international finance. We therefore welcome the resolve of governments to remove deforestation from their supply chains, efforts to drive disclosure around nature loss and the finance system, and other initiatives. 

WWF points to the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, which launched ahead of the UN Summit on Biodiversity in September and commits endorsers to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030, as a powerful tool for galvanising global ambition and action in the run up to Kunming and beyond. The announcement today that 83 world leaders have now endorsed the pledge - up from 65 at launch - is therefore hugely encouraging. However, words must now be translated into action by all endorsers.



Notes to Editors

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