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New report calls for nature to be put at the heart of decision making

A report from the UN Environment Programme calls for better relationship with nature, understanding its value and putting that value at the heart of our decision-making. Photo: A. Chembath/Unsplash

Earth’s interrelated environmental emergencies must be addressed together. Everyone has a part to play in the transformation to a sustainable future, says new UNEP report

Story highlights

  • Environmental decline is eroding progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals
  • “Making Peace With Nature: A scientific blueprint to tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution emergencies” synthesises evidence from multiple global environmental assessments
  • The report communicates how mutually reinforcing environmental emergencies stem from financial, economic and political systems which undervalue and often ignore the environment

Transforming social and economic systems and reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals means improving our relationship with nature, understanding its value and putting that value at the heart of our decision-making.

This is a key message from Making Peace With Nature, a UNEP report released in February 2021.

Triple emergencies

Against the backdrop of global failure to honour commitments to limit environmental damage, the report flags the interlinkages between environmental and development challenges, and describes the roles of all parts of society in the transformations needed for a sustainable future.

It lays out the gravity of Earth’s triple, self-inflicted environmental emergencies – climate, biodiversity loss and pollution – and identifies the shifts needed to close gaps between current actions and those needed to achieve sustainable development.

The UNEP report is a unique synthesis of findings from major global assessments, including:

  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
  • UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook report
  • UNEP International Resource Panel
  • New findings on the emergence of zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19

Undervalued or ignored

The mutually reinforcing environmental emergencies of biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution stem from the same problems in financial, economic and political systems which undervalue and often completely ignore the environment, say the authors.

Centre researcher Belinda Reyers was part of the team that authored the report.

"The report highlights yet again the need for a fundamental rethink of how we view and value the environment in our lives, our work, and our economies if we are to move out of this increasingly unequal and unsustainable model of development,” she says.

Reversing worst impacts

The expert-led report suggests that governments should redirect some of the more than US$5 trillion currently spent in annual subsidies on fossil fuels, non-sustainable agriculture and fishing, non-renewable energy, mining, and transportation towards supporting low-carbon and “nature-friendly development”.

“Only ambitious and coordinated action by governments, businesses and people around the world can prevent and reverse the worst impacts of environmental decline,” the report concludes.

Read the report here

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Published: 2021-03-03