A rescue package similar to that introduced after the global financial crisis is urgently needed to halt the worldwide loss of biodiversity, which is resulting in a heavy human cost, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed talking at a high level UN meeting on Wednesday.
“We are bankrupting our natural economy,” he told a high-level General Assembly event on biodiversity, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), ecosystems – and the biodiversity that underpins them – generate services worth trillions of dollars, supporting livelihoods around the world.
Characterizing ecosystems as “our natural capital,” Mr. Ban stressed that a loss of biodiversity can lead to the failure of crops, a drop in profits, a deepening of poverty and economic decline.
“Allowing [our natural infrastructure] to decline is like throwing money out of the window,” he said.
According to the UN, the world will not meet the 2010 target to slow the decline in biodiversity, part of the eight globally-agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Nearly 17,000 plant and animal species are currently at risk of extinction, while the number of species under threat of being wiped out is also growing by the day.
Although investment to reverse biodiversity decline has increased, the main causes of the decline – high consumption rates, habitat loss, pollution and climate change – are not adequately being tackled.
The Secretary-General called on world leaders to commit to reducing biodiversity loss. “This will be your legacy – your gift for generations to come.”