UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said the next 10 years, as science tells, are the final chance for all to avert a climate catastrophe, turn back the deadly tide of pollution and end species loss.
"So, let today be the start of a new decade – one in which we finally make peace with nature and secure a better future for all," he said in a message marking the World Environment Day that falls on June 5.
The UN chief said they face a triple environmental emergency – biodiversity loss, climate disruption and escalating pollution. "We're rapidly reaching the point of no return for the planet."
For too long, Guterres said, humanity has cut down the Earth's forests, polluted its rivers and oceans, and ploughed its grasslands into oblivion. "We're ravaging the very ecosystems that underpin our societies."
And, in doing so, the UN chief said, they risk depriving themselves of the food, water and resources they need to survive.
The degradation of the natural world is already undermining the well-being of 3.2 billion people – or 40 percent of humanity, he said.
"Luckily, the Earth is resilient. But she needs our help. We still have time to reverse the damage we have done," said the UN chief.
That is why, on this World Environment Day, Guterres said, they are launching the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
This global movement will bring together governments, businesses, civil society and private citizens in an unprecedented effort to heal the Earth, he said.
"By restoring ecosystems, we can drive a transformation that will contribute to the achievement of all the Sustainable Development Goals," Guterres said.
He said the task is monumental and they need to replant and protect their forests. "We need to clean up our rivers and seas. And we need to green our cities. Accomplishing these things will not only safeguard the planet's resources."
Guterres said it will create millions of new jobs by 2030, generate returns of over $7 trillion dollars every year and help eliminate poverty and hunger.
He said the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is a global call to action and will draw together political support, scientific research and financial muscle to massively scale up restoration. "Everyone can contribute."