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Speeches Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

HC video message to the UN Nature Summit (30 September)

30 September 2020

Interested UN system organizations, IGOs and stakeholders can present brief video messages (no more than 2 minutes / approximately 300 words) including on commitments and pledges on biodiversity in the time slot of 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm on 30 September (non-official hours).

Excellencies, friends, colleagues,

The UN Nature Summit comes at a critical time. COVID-19 has reaffirmed our dependence on a healthy environment while undermining our ability to protect it.

The biodiversity crisis does not take place in isolation from the climate crisis, the pollution of our air, water and food, or COVID-19. Ultimately, these interlinked crises are driving inequality and human loss on a massive scale.

We must rise to the challenge to build back better and more sustainably.

I am heartened by the many pledges of support for the protection of biodiversity that have been made in connection with the UN Nature Summit.

But pledges are not enough.

We need action – action guided by a firm commitment to respect, protect and fulfil human rights, including the rights to a healthy environment.

Today’s crises represent an opportunity to transform our societies through a just transition to a sustainable, no-carbon economy founded on renewable energy, environmentally sound technologies, sustainability, and livelihoods of dignity.

We can achieve this with a rights-based approach to the interlinked crises of environment, health and economies – one grounded in solidarity, compassion, human dignity and ecological integrity.

My Office supports such an effort. We advocate for the integration of human rights in biodiversity action including the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework; highlight the linkages between human wellbeing and healthy environments; and demand transformative change.

I challenge you to do the same. To achieve the change we need, we must:

  • ensure biodiversity actions that respect, protect and fulfil human rights,
  • protect cultural, religious, recreational and spiritual values and practices related to biodiversity,
  • ensure business responsibility for biodiversity, genetic resources and ecosystem services in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,
  • protect environmental human rights defenders,
  • guarantee the rights to participation, access to information and to justice in environmental decision-making; and
  • recognize and protect indigenous peoples and local communities rights to their traditional lands, resources and territories.
Thank you.