UNITED NATIONS NATIONS UNIES THE SECRETARY-GENERAL -MESSAGE TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY MEETING “HARMONY WITH NATURE: TOWARDS ACHIEVING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS INCLUDING ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE POST 2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA” New York, 27 April 2015 Delivered by Susana Malcorra, Chef de Cabinet This interactive dialogue on harmony with nature is most timely as it takes place during perhaps the most important year for development since the founding of the United Nations 70 years ago. 2015 is a year for global action. In July in Addis Ababa, the international community can agree on a comprehensive financing framework for the future development agenda. In September in New York, world leaders can adopt that universal and transformative post-2015 agenda and set of sustainable development goals. And in December in Paris, Member States can make good on their pledge to forge a new path forward on climate change by adopting a meaningful, universal climate change agreement. In short, this is the year in which we can truly usher in a new era of sustainable development for all. On 22 April, we celebrated the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, which since 2010 has been called International Mother Earth Day. The day’s theme this year was “it’s our turn to lead”. Citizens all over the world need to take a stand in 2015 so that together, we can show the world a new direction. For many, climate change seems like a remote problem, but the reality is that it’s already affecting people, biological diversity and the economy around the world. A change needs to be made for our sake as well as that of Mother Earth and future generations. The word ‘mother’ holds great power. It evokes memories of the women who gave us life, nurtured us as infants and helped mould us into who we are today. The Earth is the ultimate mother – an astounding planet that has, since time immemorial, supported life in myriad forms. As humans, we outgrow the need for constant maternal care. But we can never outgrow our reliance on Mother Earth. As long as we live, we need air, water, fertile soil and the countless other gifts this planet bestows. This dependence makes it all the more astonishing that we have allowed rapid and often unwise human development to disrupt so many of the delicate systems that have functioned harmoniously for millennia. We are increasingly aware of the damage mankind has wrought – the pollution, the dwindling resources, the species of flora and fauna forever gone, the rush towards tipping points that may alter the way our planet functions. Even with this knowledge, we have yet to change our ways. But we can change, and 2015 brings a critical opportunity to do just that. We can redefine our future for the better, by eradicating extreme poverty in all its forms and resetting our relationship with this planet and every living being it sustains. But the big decisions that lie ahead are not just for world leaders and policy-makers. On Mother Earth Day, I asked each one of us to be mindful of the impacts our choices have on this planet, and what those impacts will mean for future generations. Action can take the form of simple decisions such as switching to energy-efficient lighting or buying only what one will consume. When accumulated across billions of people, these and other planetsensitive decisions can transform our world. The power to change begins with each one of us. As a global community, we have the opportunity to make 2015 a turning point in human history. This can be the year our children and grandchildren will remember as when we chose to build a sustainable and resilient future. Let us seize this historic opportunity together. I count on you to engage in a lively debate this morning and to bring new insights that can show us ways to live, consume and produce more sustainably in harmony with nature and Mother Earth.
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