Improve relationship with Mother Earth now as “time is running short”


global warming

NARRATOR: The world’s current economic growth model – characterized by extreme production and consumption, slashed forests, and polluted air and water supplies – was operating at nature’s expense and, while it was not too late to change course and improve our relationship with Mother Earth, “time is running short.” That’s what Deputy Secretary-General Asha- Rose Migiro told the General Assembly in opening remarks to a day-long thematic debate on Harmony with Nature to commemorate International Mother Earth Day, observed Friday 22 April.
Deputy Secretary-General Migiro said that the world was undergoing a “tremendous change”.

TAPE: The evidence is clear from all quarters: by our very own activities and assumptions, we risk profound and potentially irreversible changes in the planet’s ability to sustain our progress. We see it in water pollution, loss of biodiversity, desertification, deforestation, a depleted ozone layer and climate change. Sadly, the decline in our natural capital is rarely reflected when we calculate the sum of a country’s total annual production of goods and services. We neither factor in the benefits of ecosystems, nor the costs of their destruction. A country can cut its forests and deplete its fisheries, and yet it shows only as a positive gain in gross domestic product (GDP), ignoring the corresponding decline in assets.

NARRATOR: Ms. Migiro stressed that the need to revise our accounting and embrace a low-carbon, resource-efficient, pro-poor economic model.

TAPE: Decoupling growth from pollution and natural-resource depletion will not put a brake on development, as those wedded to the status quo still argue. On the contrary, it will make growth sustainable. This year marks the International Year of Forests. It is also the beginning of the International Decade for Biodiversity. In 2002, world leaders agreed to substantially reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. We failed to meet that target. It is not too late to change course and improve our relationship with Mother Earth. But time is running short. There is much we can learn from the wisdom and philosophy of indigenous peoples. There is also much that we need to give back – for as our forests and other wild habitats are degraded, so are the lives and cultures of the people who most closely depend on them.

NARRATOR: Next year’s Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development is an opportunity to assess our relationship with nature over the last 20 years, to reaffirm commitments made in Rio and Johannesburg, to inject new impetus and to chart a sustainable way forward. Again, Deputy Secretary-general Asha Rose Migiro.

TAPE: There has been progress in some areas, and awareness has indeed grown among Governments, business and civil society. Nonetheless, much remains to be done to balance the three pillars of sustainable development. A holistic view of environmental, social and economic well-being is indeed the only route to truly sustainable development. Your work today can provide useful inputs to the preparatory work for Rio+20.

NARRATOR: During the debate, many panellists pointed to imbalanced economic and social systems that had been in place for generations, and called for a fundamental global paradigm shift. They said that new systems should be based on a partnership with nature, and not on antiquated “domination-based” models of interaction between humans and other ecological players. Some said those old systems were reflected not only in the relationship between humans and nature, but also in those between rich and poor, men and women and even between different races.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 4’13″

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