"For too long, we have been waging a senseless and suicidal war on nature," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a virtual press briefing on the UNEP report, Making Peace with Nature, on Thursday.
Despite a pandemic-induced decline in emissions, global warming is on track to increase by 3°C this century and while pollution-related diseases are prematurely killing some nine million people annually, over a million plant and animal species risk extinction.
"We are overexploiting and degrading the environment on land and sea. The atmosphere and the oceans have become dumping grounds for our waste. And governments are still paying more to exploit nature than to protect it," he explained.
According to the UN chief, the only answer is sustainable development that elevates the well-being of people and the planet.
"The bottom line is that we need to transform how we view and value nature," said the Secretary-General.
The report examines linkages and explains how science and policymaking can advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and a carbon neutral world by 2050, all while bending the curve on biodiversity loss and curbing pollution.
As an example, Making Peace with Nature outlined that sustainable agriculture and fishing, allied with diet changes and less food waste, can help end global hunger and poverty, improve nutrition and health, and spare more land and ocean for nature.