World Environment Day: A rallying call to restore our ecosystems

UNEP Executive Director Inger Anderson's remarks as Pakistan announced to host of the 2021 World Environment Day

I thank the Honorable Minister for inviting me to this press briefing. First of all, on behalf of the United Nations Environment Programme, I would like to thank Pakistan for offering to host the 2021 World Environment Day, which will be held on 5 June, on the theme of ecosystem restoration.

Pakistan is integral to global efforts to combat the three interconnected environmental crises the world faces today, namely, climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste levels. In Pakistan these crises are manifested in air and water pollution, pestilent and erosive land-use practices, desertification and extreme weather events. According to a recent study, Pakistan is ranked 5th in vulnerability to climate change.

The global restoration of ecosystems to their former glory is key to addressing those crises and to keep check of our consumption and production patterns. Restoration of eco-systems is also our single largest nature-based opportunity for climate change mitigation.

On this year’s World Environment Day, we are also formally launching the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Together with Pakistan, and through the World Environment Day platform, we shall be making a global call for the protection and revival of ecosystems around the world, in recognition of the mutual benefit for nature and people.

The science is clear: the next ten years are paramount in the fight to avert climate change and the loss of nature and biodiversity. As we commence the United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoration in 2021, it is vital that we all grasp and acknowledge that restoration is a global mission; it is an enormous task that is too big for any one organization or country to undertake. Here, I would also like to thank all the member states that have shown interest to financially contribute towards implementation of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, in particular financial support that UNEP has received from Finland and Germany for its launch.

This World Environment Day 2021, with Pakistan as its official host, we must couple the rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems with actions. With much of nature being on life-support, we need to find inspiration wherever it resuscitates. Such encouragement can be drawn from Pakistan’s Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme to restore its forests and wildlife and from citizen initiatives across the country working to green both the rural and the urban landscapes. Such initiatives reflect the ambition and action needed by nations, businesses, international organizations and individuals to enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change, and start to rebuild our collapsing ecosystems.

I commend Pakistan for its leadership and very much look forward to the 2021 World Environment Day and the official launch of the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration on June 5.


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