Opening speech from Ambassador Rivasseau at IUCN’s dialogue for a nature-based recovery

IUCN’s dialogue for a nature-based recovery from the #Covid19 pandemic.

Opening speech by HE François RIVASSEAU

Permanent Representative of France to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva

Geneva, 22 april 2021

Mr. Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature,
Honourable Ministers,
Your Excellencies Ambassadors,
Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honor and a great pleasure to open your dialogue today, on April 22nd, celebrating the 51st Earth Day, to talk about the state of our planet, the very survival of the biosphere and our duty to take care of it.

Let me share a flashback: a little over a year ago, I declared, at the Palais des Nations, that there was an urgent need to act for the preservation of biodiversity and that the year 2020 would be a decisive year for nature.

Because the urgency to act in the face of the state of global biodiversity is real. The state of global biodiversity is just as catastrophic as the one of climate and the scientific world is sounding the alarm: the latest IPBES reports including the assessment on biodiversity at global level and the IPCC, on land emerged areas and the oceans, point to the degradation of biodiversity. This is not about being pessimistic, playing the prophet of doom and gloom,, but taking stock of the unprecedented destruction we are causing and for which future generations will hold us responsible. The IPBES report makes a clear statement: around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, especially in the coming decades, which has never happened before in the history of humanity.

This degradation affects all human activities, so that 80% of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals will not be achieved, in particular those related to poverty, hunger, health, water, cities, climate, oceans and soils.

As you know, the schedule we had planned was upset by the COVID 19 pandemic, which, beyond the global health crisis, its consequences in social and economic terms, also revealed the fragility of the relationship that humanity maintains with its environment. "All our vulnerabilities are linked", specified President Emmanuel MACRON during the 4th edition of the One Planet Summit devoted to the protection of biodiversity, on January 11th, 2021.

Today the urgency to act is multifaceted. Faced with the health crisis and its economic and social impacts, we must both focus on its immediate social and economic implications, on aid to the health sector on the front line, but also look to the future, to rebuild better after the crisis.

Building back better also means (and first of all) integrating nature better into recovery and investment plans. We collectively have a major opportunity to:

  • Influence our development model by taking better account of nature,
  • Direct stimulus investments towards economic systems which, gradually but surely, will help to rebuild better and greener.

Decisions made today will affect our future for decades to come. We must do everything in our power to change the modes of production and consumption of the economies of our societies towards a development model that not only invests in nature, but also integrates nature, and thus guarantees a sustainable future for everyone.

The year 2021 must be the year of reconciliation between humanity and nature, said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

In this context, the IUCN Nature based Recovery Initiative, which aims to

  • Promote investments which do not harm nature and ecosystems and
  • Promote a stimulus in which a substantial percentage of investments would go to the protection of nature and have a positive impact on it

will be an important contribution to the discussion that has taken place at all levels, global, regional, national and local, on how to better rebuild after the pandemic.

IUCN, through its ability to engage all stakeholders, states, local authorities, civil society, the private sector, plays a leading role in transformational commitments in the field of the environment.

By hosting the World Conservation Congress in Marseille in September 2021, we are betting that it will contribute to an exceptional mobilization for an ambitious international action at the height of the accelerated and unprecedented erosion of global biodiversity, and the challenges that lie ahead for post-crisis recovery.

Today’s dialogue can be rooted in coalitions that provide solutions for the future. I therefore join with great interest in today’s discussion, and I hope to be able to welcome you, in the best possible conditions given the evolving health situation, in Marseille next September.

Thank you very much.

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