U.N. secretary-general calls for end to ‘orgy of destruction’ toward biodiversity

Speaking at the opening of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal, Secretary-General António Guterres urged for an end to the “biodiversity apocalypse” caused by humanity “treating nature like a toilet.”

Video Transcript

ANTONIO GUTERRES: 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. And ultimately, we are committing suicide by proxy, because the loss of nature and biodiversity comes with a steep human cost, a cost we measure in lost jobs, hunger, diseases, and deaths, a cost we measure in the estimated $6 trillion USD in annual losses by 2030 from ecosystem degradation, a cost we measure in higher prices for water, food, and energy, and a cost we measure in the deeply unjust and incalculable losses to the poorest countries, Indigenous populations, women, and young people.

Those least responsible for this destruction are always the first to feel the impacts, but they are never the last. Dear friends, this conference is our chance to stop this orgy of destruction, to move from discord to harmony, and to apply the ambition and action the challenge demands. We need nothing less from this meeting than a bold post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

One that beats back the biodiversity apocalypse by urgently tackling its drivers-- land and sea use change, overexploitation of species, climate change, pollution, and invasive non-native species. One that addresses the root causes of this destruction-- harmful subsidies, misdirected investment, unsustainable food systems, and wider patterns of consumption and production. One that supports all the global agreements aiming at protecting our planet, from the Paris Agreement on Climate, to agreements on land degradation, forests, oceans, chemicals, and pollution that can bring us closer to achieving the sustainable development goals.

And one with clear targets, benchmarks, and accountability-- no excuses, no delays, promises made must be promises kept. My friends, it's time.

[APPLAUSE]

It's time to forge a peace pact with nature.