The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has issued “a scientific blueprint” for how climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution can be addressed together within the framework of the SDGs. The report highlights the interlinkages between today’s environmental and development challenges, and describes the roles governments, international organizations, businesses, civil society, and other stakeholders can play in the transformations needed for a sustainable future.

Titled, ‘Making Peace with Nature: A Scientific Blueprint to Tackle the Climate, Biodiversity and Pollution Emergencies,’ the report is based on the findings from major global assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), among others. (The SDG Knowledge Hub covered some of them here, here, here, and here.) It also draws on the conclusions from UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook and the UNEP International Resource Panel, as well as new findings on the emergence of zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19.

The authors caution that the “self-inflicted” planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution are closely interconnected and put the well-being of current and future generations at “unacceptable risk.” They call for ambitious, coordinated action by governments, businesses, and people around the globe to prevent and reverse the worst impacts of environmental degradation by transforming our energy, water, and food systems. Transformation of social and economic systems, they argue, can be achieved by improving our relationship with nature and putting its value at the heart of decision making.

Key messages articulated in the report include:

  • Unsustainable development is rapidly degrading Earth’s capacity to sustain human well-being;
  • The world is failing to meet its commitments to limit environmental damage;
  • Environmental decline is eroding progress towards the SDGs;
  • Earth’s interrelated environmental emergencies must be addressed together;
  • Human knowledge, ingenuity, technology, and cooperation can transform societies and economies and secure a sustainable future;
  • Transformed economic and financial systems can power the shift to sustainability; and
  • Everyone has a part to play in the transformation to a sustainable future.

Among actions to tackle the “trio” of environmental emergencies, the report recommends reforming trade systems to make them more fair and environmentally sustainable and eliminating perverse subsidies and taxes that promote wasteful and harmful use of natural resources. It references the ongoing trade negotiations to eliminate harmful fisheries subsidies, and notes the importance of scaling up and accelerating the conservation, sustainable use, and restoration of biodiversity.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Executive Director of UNEP Inger Andersen launched the report ahead of the online session of the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5). “By fully implementing international conventions that touch on chemicals, waste and climate change, we can save millions of lives each year through reduced pollution, and protect fragile ecosystems,” Andersen stated.

Warning that without nature’s help, “we will not thrive or even survive,” Guterres outlined a path to a sustainable economy, “driven by renewable energy, sustainable food systems and nature-based solutions.” “It leads to an inclusive world at peace with nature,” he said. One of the UN Secretary-General’s Ten Priorities for 2021 is to make peace with nature.

The report was produced with financial support from the EU and the Norwegian Environment Agency. [Publication: Making Peace with Nature: A Scientific Blueprint to Tackle the Climate, Biodiversity and Pollution Emergencies] [Executive Summary] [Key Messages] [Publication Landing Page] [UN Press Release] [UNEP Press Release] [UN Secretary-General’s Remarks] [UNEP Executive Director’s Remarks] [ENB Coverage of Online Session of UNEA-5]