Billed officially as an Interactive Dialogue on Harmony with Nature, the UN General Assembly session involved Member States and top officials discussing the need to take urgent action against the pace of global warming, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement, to keep carbon dioxide emissions to well-below two degrees Celsius.
In a tweet to mark Earth Day, UN chief António Guterres said it was vital “every day” to “commit to taking better care of our planet. Please do everything in your power to tackle climate change – the defining issue of our time”, he said.
“Climate change is one of the largest threats to sustainable development globally,” said the concept note prepared for the General Assembly meeting, “and is just one of many imbalances caused by the unsustainable actions of humankind, with direct implications for future generations.”
Only we can prevent ‘irreparable damage’
President of the General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, said that taking care of nature was, in essence, “taking care of people”. She also noted the importance of respecting life-cycles of the natural world, and contributing to biological diversity so that the world can “continue and prosper”.
“We are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to the planet and to its inhabitants” she tweeted. “We are at a crossroads; this is the moment in which we decide the path we wish to take, to avoid reaching a point of no return in global warming. We already know the results of inaction.”
Day honours ‘life and sustenance’ earth provides
The international day recognizes a collective responsibility, as called for in the 1992 Rio Declaration, to promote harmony with nature and the Earth to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations of humanity.
It also provides an opportunity to raise public awareness around the world to the challenges regarding the well-being of the planet and all the life it supports.
To boost ambition and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the UN Secretary-General will host the 2019 Climate Action Summit on 23 September, to meet the climate challenge.