UN/Canadian-Media: As millions took to the streets of cities around the world on Saturday, demanding greater climate action, some countries taking part in the COP26 negotiations, made new pledges to invest in nature-based solutions and a greener approach to farming.
Mother Nature, or “Pachamama”, as they say in Latin America, took center stage as the pivotal UN climate conference reached the halfway point.
Nature is critical to our survival: it provides the oxygen we need to breathe, regulates weather patterns, supplies food and water for all living things, and is home to countless species of wildlife, and the ecosystems they need to survive.
According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), human activity has disrupted almost 75 percent of the earth’s surface and put someone million of animal and plant species on the endangered list.
We have overexploited nature’s resources, deforested lands for agriculture and the cattle industry, while climate change is now exacerbating that process faster than ever, increasing erosion and desertification.
Oceans have become polluted, which absorb around one-third of our carbon emissions, meaning they are losing the ability to be ‘climate change buffers’, according to the UN scientific agency, UNESCO.
It is clear humanity is “waging a war on nature”, as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said several times in recent months, urging greater action.
“We can’t continue to push nature into a corner and expect it to deliver. We want it to sequester carbon, to provide the buffers for the high storms and mangroves, and to be the lungs of the world.
“But when we mess with nature, nature will send us these invoices in the forms of greater intensity storms, more fires, more heatwaves and more droughts”, the Executive Director of UNEP, Inger Andersen, told UN News at COP26 on Saturday.
Call for nature-based solutions
Solving climate change cannot be done without solving the challenge of biodiversity loss and degraded ecosystems, a high-level panel that included Ms. Andersen heard.