‘We are waging war on nature’, warns UN head at COP15

Humans are ‘waging war on nature’, according to UN Secretary General António Guterres, who spoke at the launch of biodiversity summit COP15.

The conference, held in Montreal, Canada until December 19th, will see delegates from 200 countries discussing plans to reverse biodiversity loss.

Recent WWF research found wildlife populations have dropped by 69% since 1970 and conservation bodies, including Natural England, have called COP15 our ‘best and last chance’ to save nature.

time-lapse photography of river

‘Without nature, we are nothing. Nature is our life-support system,’ said Guterres. ‘It is the source and sustainer of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the energy we use, the jobs and economic activity we count on, the species that enrich human life, and the landscapes and waterscapes we call home.

‘And yet humanity seems hellbent on destruction. We are waging war on nature.’

It’s thought a new Global Biodiversity Framework will be implemented at the summit and targets to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030 will be bolstered.

This could boost the world’s efforts to reach net-zero too, as it’s widely agreed that one issue can’t be solved without confronting the other.

Guterres challenged big business in his speech, highlighting how firms are driving the nature crisis through exploiting land and resources.

He said: ‘Multinational corporations are filling their bank accounts while emptying our world of its natural gifts.

‘Ecosystems have become playthings of profit. With our bottomless appetite for unchecked and unequal economic growth, humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction.

‘We are treating nature like a toilet.’

Even so-called ‘sustainable solutions’ can be guilty of this, as rampant greenwashing is reforming the image of environmentally degrading activities.

In the run up to COP15, 650 scientists signed a letter urging world leaders to stop relying on forest bioenergy for power, as the felling and burning of trees destroys wildlife habitats.

‘The best thing for the climate and biodiversity is to leave forests standing – and biomass energy does the opposite,’ the letter reads.

Photo by Hendrik Cornelissen


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