There is still time to make peace with the planet – UNESCO DG
13 September 2021
“The erosion of biodiversity is no longer a hypothesis, but a fact – one that can already be seen and felt in our everyday lives."
With the global concern about erosion of biodiversity and people’s lifestyle that is putting pressure on the natural world, the Director General of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay, has expressed optimism that there was still time to make peace with the planet.
“The erosion of biodiversity is no longer a hypothesis, but a fact – one that can already be seen and felt in our everyday lives. Biodiversity is collapsing, at an unprecedented speed. But this collapse is not inevitable: there is still time to make peace with the planet.” She said at the 33rd session of the International Co-ordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme held on 13 September 2021, in Abuja.
Ms. Azoulay further explained that “Year after year, the figures worsen, revealing the true depth of the crisis we are currently confronting. From the treetops to the ocean depths, from vertebrates to invertebrates, no species is spared.”
She called on all stakeholders to harness the power of education to rebuild our relationship with nature – and UNESCO is fully mobilized to ensure that the environment becomes a key curriculum component by 2025, in line with the commitment made by the 80governments UNESCO gathered at the Berlin conference last May.
In declaring the 33rd session of the International Co-ordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB-ICC) open, H.E. President Muhammadu Buhari reaffirmed that a healthy planet was a pre-requisite for healthy people and which, he noted, was the foundation of a healthy economy.
“Changing our behaviour, respecting the natural habitat and living in peace and harmony with nature are paramount to a future resilient generation where biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and sustainably used, while maintaining ecosystem services and delivering essential benefits to the people.” He emphasised.
President Buhari, who was represented by the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, expressed Nigeria’s pride in hosting the 33rd Session of MAB ICC for the very first time on African Soil.
In his goodwill message, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Edward Kallon, called on everyone to rise and take responsibility to restore Human-Nature safe space by taking responsible steps to conserve biodiversity and restore lost resources.
This, according to him, “brings to mind the current ‘UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration’ which aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean and in line with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
He explained that the Decade has therefore placed a demand on scientists, and indeed on all of us, to work together to recover our lost ecosystems and biodiversity to Build Back Better.
Kallon commended the efforts of UNESCO in establishing the Man and the Biosphere Programme, which connects all governments of its member states, including Nigeria, to use integrated and holistic approaches for improving human livelihoods and safeguarding natural resources and ecosystems in a sustainable manner.
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization