WWF reaction to 50th anniversary conference of the UN Environment Programme: Stockholm +50

Posted on 03 June 2022

Governments acknowledge failure to prevent the collapse of nature, and now we need to immediately step up action for people and planet

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (3 June) - This week, leaders from more than 120 countries and from all corners of society met in Stockholm to celebrate and review 50 years of the UN Environment Programme. Governments recognised their collective failure, with Ministers from many countries referring to the dramatically worsening status of the planet, the looming 6th mass extinction, and the impact this is, and will increasingly have, on our economies as well as the risks to human health such as through future pandemics such as COVID-19.

In 1972, the world recognised the link between the environment and the economy for the first time. Since then, governments have begun to respond to the triple crisis. However response has been too slow and not at the scale required. 

Recently, hopeful signs for an exponential rise in attention to nature have emerged - from understanding the urgency of the planetary emergency with scientists, civil society, businesses to citizens mobilizing and leaders putting nature at the highest level on the political agenda including  the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature and the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forest and Land Use in 2021. 

At Stockholm+50, Governments acknowledged their failure to prevent the decline of planetary health, and committed to working towards:

1. Recognising that the world cannot choose between COVID recovery, food security and the environment: and committed to addressing all these challenges simultaneously;

2. Embracing and recognising the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment and a larger approach founded on human and nature rights; 

3. Agreeing on an ambitious, nature-positive and transformational Global Biodiversity Framework before the year ends, with several calling for a global goal to be nature positive by 2030;

4. Reforming our economy, including the development of a nature-positive economy roadmap that reforms and realigns the finance sector and business, so that governments, businesses and the finance sector are properly valuing and funding nature, and develop a financing model that demonstrates solidarity with and support to the most vulnerable countries and countries rich in biodiversity. 

Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International said: “I commend the genuine acknowledgement of past failures and a call by many Ministers to embed a clear and measurable nature-positive global goal by 2030 in the Global Biodiversity Framework that is grounded in solidarity, rights and equity. This now needs to be accompanied by actions at scale on key levers including the protection of more nature on land, ocean and rivers, an equitable transition to a nature-positive economy, and halving the footprint of our society's production and consumption model to reverse biodiversity loss.” 

“We must make much more progress in the next decade than we have collectively in the past 50 years. Science is telling us that it’s possible and more importantly it’s necessary to secure a safe future, in fact the only possible future for humanity”.


Note to Editors

  • Human activities are currently destroying nature at a rate much faster than it can replenish itself. A landmark 2019 UN study revealed that one million species are now threatened with extinction.
  • Existing international government commitments, declarations, resolutions and coalitions include the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature; the G7 2030 Nature Compact; the G20 Rome Leaders’ Declaration; IUCN Motion 40/Resolution 116 (World Conservation Congress 2021); the Kunming Declaration; the High Ambition Coalition for nature and people; the Global Oceans Alliance; the Sustainable Development Goals; the Aichi targets; the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use; The Glasgow Climate Pact; the 2022 G7 Development Ministers’ Meeting Communiqué and G7 Climate, Energy and Environment Ministers’ Communiqué communiqués; and a joint statement endorsed by 115 countries & the European Union at the virtual session of the third open ended working group of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). WWF has assessed the gap in translating some of these political commitments into an ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework. See the report here.
  • Public awareness of and action for nature continues to grow, with a 71% increase in people searching for sustainable goods on google over 4 years and especially in developing countries, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit here.
  • More than 330 non-state actors including faith organizations, development and humanitarian organizations, women's groups, business coalitions and environment organizations have called for a nature-positive Global Biodiversity Framework here.
  • 1,100 businesses have called for action on nature through Business for Nature here, and the Science Based Targets Network has developed interim guidance for companies to take ambitious and measurable action for nature here.
  • The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosure is developing a guidance framework on nature-related risks and opportunities for the finance sector here.
  • WWF is urging governments to adopt a global goal to be Nature Positive by 2030 like Climate has a Net zero goal. More on the global goal and its measurability here.
  • WWF, UNEP-WCMC and partners propose the development of a roadmap for economic and financial system reform that supports the equitable transition to a global nature-positive economy alongside the net zero transition. Several governments supported this effort in Stockholm+50. More here
  • WWF is also urging government parties to the CBD to secure and ensure effective implementation of a ‘Paris-style’ agreement for nature that includes a clear set of science-based and measurable goals, milestones and targets. This must include a mission to ensure we have more nature in 2030 than we had in 2020, a target to conserve 30% of land, freshwater and oceans by 2030 through a rights-based approach, as well as a 2030 milestone to halve the footprint of production and consumption. WWF’s key messages for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework negotiations available here. 
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