Jun 06, 2022 | News

World Environment Day

World Environment Day

by: Ms Nardos Bekele-Thomas, AUDA-NEPAD Chief Executive Officer

Humanity is using up the world’s resources faster than they can naturally recover. At the same time, the effects of climate change – lower crop yields, erratic rainfall, prolonged droughts – are making life harder for millions of people. World Environment Day, on 5 June, is a global event to celebrate and encourage action on the climate crisis. The day is described as “a global platform for inspiring positive change.” For all these reasons and more, I am adding my voice to encourage everyone, everywhere, to live sustainably and act on the climate crisis.

The central role that the environment plays as a guarantor and central pillar of sustainable development cannot be overemphasised. Indeed, the AUDA-NEPAD founding document and Environment Action Plan recognise a sustainable environment as a pre-requisite for attaining NEPAD’s overall goal of sustainable growth and development.

Today, as we look at the present and a future of heatwaves, droughts, floods, wildfires, pandemics, polluted air and plastic ridden oceans and geopolitical tensions in action, it is more than apparent that we are running against the clock. African leaders also recognise that the degradation of 65% of the continent’s agricultural land threatens economic and environmental ruin for millions of communities.

This year’s World Environment Day is commemorated at a time when our home, the Earth, is facing multiple environmental challenges that pose existential threats to livelihoods and our very survival. The 2022 World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Perception Survey indicates that the top three most severe global threats over the next decade will be related to climate change with climate action failure at the top, followed by extreme weather events and biodiversity loss.

For us in Africa, we feel the impact of the triple challenges of environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change which are predicted to negatively impact our development aspirations and affect, primarily, millions of poor and vulnerable populations on the continent. As these crises have become more acute, World Environment Day’s message has gotten more urgent and imperative.

This year is a watershed moment for global environmental governance. We have just come from the 15th United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire with a firm call to ensure that land, the lifeline on this planet, continues to benefit present and future generations.

As the Continent’s development agency, we are committed to supporting countries and institutions in domesticating and implementing the Multilateral Environmental Agreements and continental environmental frameworks, such as the NEPAD Action Plan. We shall also continue to support the environmental sustainability priorities of the continent as captured in Agenda 2063. We aim to strengthen the capacity of African Union Member States and Regional Economic Communities to integrate climate change and sustainable development responses into national development processes through the provision of capacity building, and financial and technical support for sustainable environmental management.

I would like to end this message by emphasising that we are running out of time to save our planet - using up the equivalent of 1.6 earths to maintain our current way of life.  Nature simply cannot keep up with our demands. Let us all act now to save planet earth.