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Messages from United Nations officials for World Environment Day

UN Secretary General António Guterres

The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is “land restoration, desertification and drought resilience.”

Humanity depends on the earth. Yet around the world, a toxic cocktail of pollution, climate chaos and biodiversity destruction is turning healthy lands into deserts and thriving ecosystems into dead zones. They are destroying forests and grasslands, and sapping the earth’s strength to sustain ecosystems, agriculture and communities.

Full message

UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen

This World Environment Day we ask everyone to join the global movement to restore our lands, build resilience to drought and combat desertification.

Land degradation affects more than three billion people.

Freshwater ecosystems are also degraded, making it difficult to produce crops and raise livestock.

This disproportionately affects small farmers and the rural poor.

But nature is resilient.

By restoring ecosystems, we can stop the triple planetary crisis: the climate change crisis, the nature and land loss crisis, and the pollution and waste crisis.

We can help reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, in line with the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

We can get closer to keeping global temperature rise in line with the Paris Agreement by increasing carbon storage, including in peatlands.

And we can reduce poverty and food insecurity, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

The work has begun.

The United Nations Ecosystem Restoration Decade supports commitments to restore one billion hectares of land, an area larger than China.

Last year, six countries committed to restoring 300,000 kilometers of rivers and 350 million hectares of wetlands.

At the sixth United Nations Environment Assembly in February, nations agreed to strengthen sustainable land management.

Later this year, the three Rio Conventions (on climate, biodiversity and land) will each hold a Conference of Parties.

Land restoration can be a golden thread that unites action and ambition in these three important meetings.

We must make this work count.

I thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hosting World Environment Day 2024.

On this important day, I ask everyone to join Generation Restoration.

Our land is our future.

We must protect it.

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