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Posted: Thursday 8 December, 2022 at 1:14 PM

The Secretary-General -- Press Stakeout Opening Remarks

By: UN Secretary-General, Remarks

    Montreal, 7 December 2022 
    [as delivered] 


    Ladies and gentlemen of the media, thank you very much for your presence. 
    I want first of all to thank Prime Minister Trudeau for hosting the UN Biodiversity Conference — COP15 — here in Montreal.   
    I also want to thank China’s Minister of Ecology and Environment Huang Runqiu, for his leadership as president and chair of this Conference.   
    And to thank Canada and the people of Quebec for the warm welcome to Montreal. 
    This important Conference brings the world to Canada to focus on the future of humanity’s relationship with nature — our life-support system.  
    We are waging a war on nature.   
    Ecosystems have become playthings of profit.  
    Human activities are laying waste to once-thriving forests, jungles, farmland, oceans, rivers, seas and lakes.   
    Our land, water and air are poisoned by chemicals and pesticides, and choked with plastics.  
    The addiction to fossil fuels has thrown our climate into chaos.  
    Unsustainable production and monstrous consumption habits are degrading our world.    
    Humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction, as I mentioned yesterday, with a million species at risk of disappearing forever.  
    All of this destruction comes at a huge price.  
    Lost jobs, economic devastation, rising hunger, higher costs for food, water and energy, diseases, and a degraded planet.  
    That was the central message I wanted to give to this Conference.  
    Humanity’s war on nature is ultimately a war on ourselves.  
    Ladies and gentlemen of the media, 
    That’s why I called for a peace pact with nature — a bold post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework with quantified and targeted goals that address the root causes of this destruction and effective mechanisms of accountability.   
    We need governments to develop ambitious national action plans that protect and preserve our natural gifts, and put our planet on a path to healing.  
    We need businesses and investors to put protection first in their business plans, and invest in sustainable production and extraction methods across every link of their supply chains.  
    We need a dramatic step-up in climate action.  We have to recognize that in Sharm El-Shiekh, we were not able to address the central question of the emisions gap but there were a few breakthroughs and we can build on those breakthroughs. First, the creation of the loss and damage fund and the recognition that we need to dramatically increase the shift to renewables and to reform the global financial architecture particularly the way Multilateral Development Banks operate. It is essential that Multilateral Development Banks change their business model, accept more risk and are able to leverage private financing at reasonable cost for developing countries through guarantees, through being the first risk takers and coalitions of financial institutions and other innovative financial practices.   
    Climate action and protection of biodiversity are two sides of the same coin.   
    We need tough regulatory frameworks and disclosure measures that end greenwashing, and hold the private sector accountable. 
    We need developed countries to provide meaningful financial support for the countries of the Global South as custodians of the world’s natural wealth following centuries of exploitation and loss.  
    We need to ensure that developing countries have more direct, simpler, and faster access to much-needed financing. 
    And throughout, we need to work side-by-side with the most effective guardians of biodiversity — Indigenous Peoples first of all, local communities, and young people, some of whom I met with today - and all the testimonies that I received from civil society, from indigenous communities, from youth and women’s organizations were very much in line with the principle that human rights must be at the centre of everything we do in relation to the environment and at the centre of the work of this conference.   
    The sad truth is that we’ve made a mess of our world.  
    We cannot pass the buck to our children to clean it up.  
    Forget the dreams of some billionaires.  
    There is no planet B.  
    It is only by investing in Planet Earth that we can safeguard our future. 
    It’s time for the world to adopt an ambitious biodiversity framework — a true peace pact with nature — to deliver a green, healthy future for all. 
    Thank you.   






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