Triple Environmental Crisis That Challenge Post-COVID-19 Recovery – UNEP Chief



Climate crisis, nature crisis and pollution and waste crisis have to be dealt with by countries and the global community by means of multilateral action to achieve successful post-Novel Coronavirus disease (Post-COVID-19) socio-economic recovery.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, Inger Andersen, made the recommendation in a speech titled, “Ecosystems and Biodiversity: Multilateral Action for a Green Post-COVID-19 Recovery,” which was released by UNEP on its website on 22nd September 2020.

Inger delivered the speech at year 2020 Kapuchinski Development Lecture organized by the Earth Institute of Columbia University in cooperation with the Global Masters of Development Practice and the UN Sustainable Development Network.

She said: “As we look at the impact of our actions on the planet’s ecological and atmospheric stability, we can see there is something seriously wrong with how our economies and societies operate. While COVID-19 is deadly and destructive, we were already deep in the throes of these three planetary crises.

“The three crises, –the climate crisis; the nature crisis, and the pollution and waste crisis –have been underway for decades. Caused by our unsustainable consumption and production. 

“We see these crises in COVID-19. We see it in rising temperatures, wildfires, droughts, floods, hurricanes and more. We see it in debilitating air pollution and in inordinate waste and chemical streams, including the plastic waste choking our oceans. Take each of these individually, and it would be serious. Take these three crises together and it is mind-blowing.
“Science warned us. Nature warned us. The climate warned us. The media warned us. Some politicians warned us. Yet, here we are, counting the costs.”

According to her, millions of lives are being lost each year, massive economic losses occur and livelihoods are being ruined by the triple crises from year to year. 

Not only do they pose  threats to peace, security and wellbeing,  fragile species are disappearing into memory, the UNEP executive director stressed. 

“Our way of life – based on producing, consuming and polluting – has brought us here. Even in a time of global belt tightening, humanity still needs 1.6 planets to sustain itself,” the UNEP chief explained.

She expressed concern that nature, which makes human health and prosperity possible, is at breaking point, and therefore stressed thatmultilateralism is still the answer to tackling the question of the triple planetary crises.

Inger had a flashback of United Nations in her lecture. “This year, we mark 75 years of the United Nations,” she is recollected. 

She pointed out that the UN’s founding documents laid out a vision that was audacious and ambitious such as  rebuilding a broken world,  preventing global conflict.m, and  eradicating poverty, all through collective action that would help nations rise together.

In Inger’s view, where multilateral action was taken, things changed for the better. “And so we can ask how the planet’s biodiversity and ozone layer would have fared without multilateralism to drive the world on. So I say to you that multilateralism as a system does work; it is only when we do not commit strongly enough, or where we fail to live up to our commitments, that we falter,” the UNEP authority elaborated.


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