Jun 16, 2019 | Updated: 11:54 AM EDT

A New Global Deal for Nature and People is Urgently Needed

Jun 12, 2019 04:24 PM EDT

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Few people have had the chance to find themselves on the cusp of a truly historic transformation. Our planet is at a crossroads and we have the opportunity to decide the path ahead. On one hand, we have known for many, many years that we are driving the planet to the very brink. This is not a doom and gloom story; it is reality. The astonishing decline in wildlife populations shown by the latest Living Planet Index - a 60 percent fall in just over 40 years - is a grim reminder and perhaps the ultimate indicator of the pressure we exert on the planet. On the other hand, science has never been clearer about the consequences of our impact. There has never been more awareness - nor such rapidly increasing investment in finding solutions.

Today, we have the knowledge and means to redefine our relationship with the planet. We can no longer ignore the warning signs; doing so would be at our own peril. What we need now is the will to act - and act quickly. The nature conservation agenda is not only about securing the future of tigers, pandas, whales and all the amazing diversity of life we love and cherish on Earth. It's bigger than that. Our day-to-day life, health and livelihoods depend on a healthy planet. There cannot be a healthy, happy and prosperous future for people on a planet with a destabilized climate, depleted oceans and rivers, degraded land and empty forests, all stripped of biodiversity, the web of life that sustains us all. In the next years, we need to urgently transition to a net carbonneutral society and halt and reverse nature loss - through green finance and shifting to clean energy and environmentally friendly food production. In addition, we must preserve and restore enough land and ocean in a natural state to sustain all life.

But we have two main problems. First, and perhaps the greatest, is the cultural challenge. For too long we have taken nature for granted, and this needs to stop. The second is economic. We can no longer ignore the impact of current unsustainable production models and wasteful lifestyles. These must be accounted for and addressed. This is today's - and our generation's - greatest challenge and opportunity: for the first time, we can fully grasp how protecting nature is also about protecting people. The environmental and human development agendas are rapidly converging.

Few people have the chance to be a part of truly historic transformations. This is ours. We have before us a rapidly closing window for action and an unparalleled opportunity as we head into the year 2020. This is when the world will review its progress on sustainable development by means of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity. And this is when the world should embrace a new global deal for nature and people, as we did for climate in Paris, and truly demonstrate the path we are choosing for people and the planet.

Today, we still have a choice. We can be the founders of a global movement that changed our relationship with the planet, that saw us secure a future for all life on Earth, including our own. Or we can be the generation that had its chance and failed to act; that let Earth slip away. The choice is ours. Together we can make it happen for nature and for people.

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