Posted on 28 September 2020
The EU, Heads of States and Governments commit to decisive action on nature
NEW YORK, United States (28 September) – Today President Ursula von der Leyen on behalf of the European Commission, and Heads of State and Government from more than 60 countries including the leaders of five of the world’s largest economies, have committed to reverse nature loss by the end of the decade.
The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature: United to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for Sustainable Development sees leaders pledging to undertake urgent actions over the next ten years as part of the UN Decade of Action to achieve Sustainable Development. It comes days ahead of the UN Summit on Biodiversity, sending a strong, united signal that the world must step up ambition to halt and reverse nature loss for the benefit of people and nature and to help tackle climate change.
The Pledge, which will be officially launched at the Leaders’ Event for Nature and People today, part of the Nature For Life Hub, is a direct response to our escalating planetary emergency, and the need for urgent and immediate global action to address our interdependent biodiversity, climate and health crises.
Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF-International, said:
“Nature and biodiversity loss is so severe that it poses grave risks to our health, economy and livelihoods. Pandemics, wildfires, wildlife decline and climate change are all symptoms of our dangerously unbalanced relationship with the natural world. We can’t ignore it any longer, and we must act decisively.
The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature marks a pivotal moment with countries demonstrating real leadership from the highest political level, and committing to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. We call on all leaders to build on this ambition at the forthcoming UN Summit on Biodiversity. Together, they must develop and agree a shared plan for the biodiversity and climate negotiations scheduled for next year, to secure a carbon-neutral, nature-positive and equitable future for all. There has never been a more crucial time to act for nature than now.”
In the past year, a series of major reports have focused global attention on the biodiversity crisis, with nature currently declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history. WWF’s Living Planet Report 2020, released earlier this month, revealed a 68% decline in vertebrate populations globally since 1970, driven by the way we currently produce and consume and the EU is no exception.
Ester Asin, Director of WWF European Policy Office said:
“It’s encouraging to see President von der Leyen and other EU leaders sign today’s pledge, finally giving biodiversity the spotlight on the global stage that it has long deserved. Now, von der Leyen must stay true to her word and earmark funds in the EU budget to biodiversity for a truly green recovery. Today’s pledge must be more than just a signature; it must be the point of change for biodiversity.”
Earlier this year, the Commission published its own EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy which aims to finally restore Europe’s nature by the end of the decade. This strategy has the potential to put Europe’s nature on the path to recovery, but it must be fully endorsed by the Member States, most of which also signed today’s pledge committing to stepping up action on nature*.
Leaders have also committed to meaningful action and mutual accountability to address the planetary emergency, working with all parts of society and meeting at UNGA 2021 to review progress and reaffirm commitments.
The Pledge comes less than two weeks after the release of the UN’s Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 report, which revealed that the world is not on course to fully meet any of its decade-long Aichi biodiversity targets. A post-2020 global biodiversity framework with a global goal for nature and new biodiversity targets, is due to be adopted in Kunming, China, under the UN Biodiversity Convention next year. The EU must lead by example by rapidly implementing its own 2030 Biodiversity Strategy.
Quote from President of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen:
''On behalf of the European Union, I am proud to commit to the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, together with many other Heads of State and Government. We commit to undertake the ten actions to put our planet on a path to recovery. We want to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation. We must do so for our prosperity and for our health. To protect livelihoods and fight hunger. And to become carbon neutral. All parts of government must take on this challenge together. Jointly with citizens, with industry and businesses, with farmers and fishermen and - women. We want a real common movement for change. One that crosses borders and unites generations. Now is the time to act. I endorse the Leaders Pledge for Nature and commit to take urgent actions so that united we can reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for sustainable development.’'
Notes to Editor
Key commitments in the pledge include:
Taking urgent actions now to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for sustainable development; including:
- The development and full implementation of an ambitious and transformational post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted in Kunming, China, next year;
- Transitioning to sustainable patterns of production and consumption and sustainable food systems that meet people’s needs while remaining within planetary boundaries. Including by switching to deforestation-free regenerative agriculture;
- Reducing pollution on land and in the air, including eliminating ocean plastic waste;
- Sustainably managing our ocean and conclude the negotiations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea;
- A green and just response to the current health and economic crisis, integrating a One Health* approach and putting biodiversity, climate and the environment as a whole at the heart of recovery strategies, investments and decisions and actions across the whole of government;
- Investing more money in biodiversity and nature-based solutions and also committing to eliminating or repurposing harmful investments and subsidies and aligning financial flows to environmental commitments and the Sustainable Development Goals to achieve the wellbeing of people and safeguard the planet.
Notes to Editors:
The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature: United to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for Sustainable Development will be launched officially at the ‘Leaders Event for Nature and People: A global response to our planetary emergency - protecting our safety net’. This virtual event, which forms part of the Nature For Life Hub, takes place 09:00-10:30am New York time on Monday 28 September 2020. The event will include statements from more than 20 Heads of State and Government and a live Heads of State and Government discussion.
To watch live, visit this page.
- The embargoed final list of countries that have endorsed the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature is available here.
- The pledge will be available on this link.
- WWF, as a non-state actor, has supported this member-state led Leaders’ Pledge for Nature. The Nature For Life Hub is a joint effort from more than 40 organizations and institutions including WWF, coordinated by UNDP.
- The UN Summit on Biodiversity is due to take place on Wednesday 30 September 2020. For the first time ever, more than 116 Heads of State and Government have requested to speak at the Summit, marking the high level fora as a historic moment for biodiversity
- 'One Health' is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes. It brings together the expertise across public health, animal health, plant health and the environment.
Communications Officer, Biodiversity & Agriculture,
WWF European Policy Office