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241. UNEP Report on Making Peace with Nature

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The burden on the environment caused by humans has gradually increased for almost half a century, and is now causing a planetary emergency. In February 2021, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published a synthesis report titled Making Peace with Nature, with practical recommendations on how to tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution emergencies, and build a sustainable future.

The UNEP synthesis report expanded on the following key messages:

  • Environmental changes are undermining hard-won development gains by causing economic costs and millions of premature deaths annually. They are impeding progress towards ending poverty and hunger, reducing inequalities and promoting sustainable economic growth, work for all and peaceful and inclusive societies.
  • The well-being of today‘s youth and future generations depends on an urgent and clear break with current trends of environmental decline. The coming decade is crucial. Society needs to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels and reach net-zero emissions by 2050 to limit warning to 1.5°C as aspired to in the Paris Agreement, while at the same time conserving and restoring biodiversity and minimizing pollution and waste.
  • Earth’s environmental emergencies and human well-being need to be addressed together to achieve sustainability. The development of the goals, targets, commitments and mechanisms under the key environmental conventions and their implementation need to be aligned to become more synergistic and effective.
  • The economic, financial and productive systems can and should be transformed to lead and power the shift to sustainability. Society needs to include natural capital in decision-making, eliminate environmentally harmful subsidies and invest in the transition to a sustainable future.
  • Everyone has a role to play in ensuring that human knowledge, ingenuity, technology and cooperation are redeployed from transforming nature to transforming humankind‘s relationship with nature. Polycentric governance is key to empowering people to express themselves and act environmentally responsibly without undue difficulty or self-sacrifice.

As we have taken up on various occasions in this Pick Up section, the world is currently facing multiple crises: climate crisis, pandemic crisis, and economic crisis, due to human economic activities which have exceeded the planetary boundaries of the Earth. This UNEP report describes these crises as a planetary emergency, but climate change, biosphere integrity, land system change, and biogeochemical flows have been pointed out as planetary boundaries which have reached a level beyond the boundaries within which humans can thrive safely. Agriculture, forestry and fisheries are involved in all of this, and science and technology are required to promote a sustainable and robust food system transformation.

United Nations Environment Programme (2021). Making Peace with Nature: A scientific blueprint to tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution emergencies. Nairobi. https://www.unep.org/resources/making-peace-nature

Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Research Strategy Office)

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