Action 2030 Blog

Recovery is our chance to change course


World-record holder free-diver Şahika Ercümen took a dive to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the Bosphorous Strait in Istanbul, Turkey. Waterways are beginning to drown in plastic waste, a problem only made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caption: “Plastic medical waste pollution such as masks and gloves has increased during the pandemic," says the world-record holder free-diver, Şahika Ercümen.
Photo: Şebnem Coşkun / Anadolu Agency for UNDP Euroasia

2021 must be the year to reconcile humanity with nature.

Until now, we have been destroying our planet.

We have been abusing it as if we had a spare one.

Our current resource use requires almost two planets but we only have one.

If we compare Earth’s history to a calendar year, we have used one third of its natural resources in the last 0.2 seconds.

We have been poisoning air, land and water – and filling oceans with plastics.

Now, nature is striking back.

Temperatures are reaching record highs.

Biodiversity is collapsing.

Deserts are spreading.

Fires, floods and hurricanes are more frequent and extreme.

And we are extremely fragile.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 has taken more than 1.8 million lives and devastated economies.

For the first time in this century, poverty is increasing.

Inequalities are deepening.

As we rebuild, we cannot revert to the old normal.

Pandemic recovery is our chance to change course.

With smart policies and the right investments, we can chart a path that brings health to all, revives economies and builds resilience and rescues biodiversity. 

Innovations in energy and transport can steer a sustainable recovery and an economic and social transformation.

Nature-based solutions – such as Africa’s Great Green Wall – are especially promising.

Preserving the world’s biodiversity also yields jobs: according to the World Economic Forum, emerging business opportunities across nature could create 191 million jobs by 2030.

But the world has not met any of the global biodiversity targets set for 2020, and biodiversity is facing a financing gap of $711 billion per year until 2030.

Sustainable financing is essential if we are to transition away from polluting sectors.

Our meeting in Kunming, the COP in China, this year is a vital step in establishing a post-2020 global framework for biodiversity and stopping the extinction crisis.