Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 June 2020:
Although covid-19 has brought unprecedented decline in global CO2 emissions with an expected significant reduction in global warming, serious concerns are still being raised about the world’s attitude towards the environment and nature.
Yesterday, a press statement, titled: “Recover from the Global Recession, We must Invest in Nature” – authored and signed by a group of prominent global players, made up of former presidents and prime ministers, including Sierra Leone’s former president Ernest Bai Koroma, who are members of the ‘Campaign for Nature’s Global Steering Committee’, was published, calling for change.
This is what they said:
Ranging from former heads of state to former foreign ministers and diplomats, we have come together to serve as the Global Steering Committee for the Campaign for Nature.
We come from regions around the world and are united by the belief that the destruction of the natural world is an urgent issue for our economies, our health, and the overall wellbeing of mankind. (Photo: Former presidents Obasanjo and Ernest Bai Koroma).
Specifically, we have formed this group with the overarching purpose of calling on world leaders to support a new global goal to protect at least 30 percent of the planet’s land and ocean by 2030.
Scientists are telling us that this is the minimum amount needed to halt global biodiversity loss, which threatens up to one million species with extinction and is considered by the World Economic Forum to be one of the top five risks facing the global economy.
We believe that the issue of land and marine conservation is timelier than ever. The coronavirus pandemic has further underscored the need to protect more of the natural world, as studies have shown that the destruction of nature increases the risk of infectious disease outbreaks. (Photo: Former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf).
We also believe that nature conservation must both be a core element of the economic rescue plans that global leaders are developing to respond to the emerging global recession, and a cornerstone of creating a resilient new economy.
We would like to call world leaders’ attention to a new report that found that protected areas and the local communities that depend on them for their livelihoods are well positioned for financial support through stimulus packages, and yet thus far they have been overlooked by stimulus discussions.
We would like to endorse the report’s findings and urge countries around the world to urgently invest in nature conservation for several reasons:
- To prevent local communities worldwide associated with protected areas from collapsing into prolonged poverty, unemployment and depression;
- To prevent protected areas from being further exploited by wildlife poaching and illegal logging and mining – the assets of the protected areas’ business;
- To create jobs and economic activity, including through restoration and by providing a safety net to nature-based tourism, which was one of the fastest growing sectors before the pandemic;
- To safeguard the huge contributions that nature makes to the global economy (more than half of the world’s GDP depends on nature);
- To fight against climate change, as nature-based solutions are recognized as key to meeting climate goals and can deliver near-term and long-term economic benefits;
- To help recover crucial biodiversity and critical ecosystems; and
- To guard against future pandemics.
We are living at a pivotal moment in world history, and we are motivated by the opportunity for all countries to work together, in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and local communities, as a global community to invest in nature for the benefit of all people and societies.
Russ Feingold, Former US Senator and former Special Envoy to Great Lakes Region of Africa
Hailemariam Desalegn, Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia
Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary UNFCCC
José María Figueres, Former President of Costa Rica
Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, Former President of Iceland
Zakri Abdul Hamid, Former Science Advisor to Prime Minister of Malaysia
Ernest Bai Koroma, Former President of Sierra Leone
Tzipi Livni, Former Foreign Minister of Israel
Susanna Malcorra, Former Foreign Minister of Argentina
Amre Moussa, Former Foreign Minister of Egypt
Olusegun Obasanjo, Former President of Nigeria
Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland
Emil Salim, Former Environmental Minister of Indonesia
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia
Yongyuth Yuthavong, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand
Congresswoman Deb Haaland (Honorary Member)