05 Jun 2020

Venue: Live | Webex Event & Facebook

Organization: Geneva Environment Network

The food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature. Since 1974, World Environment Day has been celebrated on 5 June to engage governments, businesses, organizations and the public for the need to take positive environmental action.


To celebrate World Environment Day and as part of the Geneva Environment Network’s online sessions called GENeva Environment Dialogue, a roundtable with the theme “It’s Time for Nature” will be take place on 5 June 2020.

The theme for World Environment Day 2020 is “Biodiversity” with the slogan “Time for Nature” — a call to action to combat the accelerating species loss and degradation of the natural world. One million plant and animal species risk extinction, largely due to human activities. Recent events, from bushfires in Brazil, the United States and Australia to locust infestations across East Africa – and now, a global disease pandemic – demonstrate the interdependence of humans and the webs of life in which they exist. Nature is sending us a message.

Every World Environment Day is hosted by a different country, in which official celebrations take place. This year’s host is Colombia in partnership with Germany. Various live panels will key stake holders, hosted by Colombia, will take place from 7.30 am Colombia Time (12.30 CEST).

This event closes the Geneva Environment Dialogues’ series special COVID-19 #ForNature, addressing the theme of this year’s World Environment Day. Reminding key messages from the landmark report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), released in 2019, referred to as the most comprehensive assessment of its kind, the discussion will then focus on how together we can boost the global biodiversity agenda, the key milestones ahead of us, and the opportunities provided in the global recovery plans.


Bruno Pozzi

Europe Director, UNEP

H.E. Amb. Adriana del Rosario Mendoza Agudelo

Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva

H.E. Franz Perrez

Ambassador for the Environment, Switzerland

Marco Lambertini

Director General, WWF International

Eva Spehn

IPBES contact point for Switzerland


Welcoming remarks

Bruno Pozzi, Director for Europe, UNEP

  • Happy World Environment Day!
  • As a national and EU diplomat, we celebrate national days, but these days do not get as much involvement as UN days
  • This is the year for nature
  • Hosted by Colombia
  • Lots of celebrations around the world
  • It is time for nature
  • Pandemic came from unhealthy ecosystems
  • Ecosystems are essential for our life and our survival
  • Nature is giving us a call and we need to hear
  • Everything depends on how we treat nature and on its state
  • Nature can help us fight climate change through nature-based solutions
  • We can build back better
  • We can protect biodiversity
  • Far more important than any national day
  • It is complex, it is difficult but as Mandela said: “It is impossible, until you’ve done it”

H.E. Adriana Mendoza, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the UN in Geneva

  • Colombia is hosting World Environment Day this year, in partnership with Germany and UNEP
  • Countries are facing enormous challenges because of the pandemic
  • Opportunity to reflect on the linkages between health and environment and on how we can contribute to making this planet more resilient
  • Facing COVID-19 will require determined collective action at scale and solidarity
  • Some countries worry that the economic crisis is so severe that economic recovery should take priority over climate, environmental or social concerns
  • Other countries see it as opportunity to build better and align efforts of the development agenda, including achieving carbon neutrality by 2050
  • Tackling COVID-19:
    • Making the right decisions
      • Help build more resilient societies for people, nature, economy
    • Looking into the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
      • Ensure consistency in tackling the challenge
    • Investment decisions from corporate actors, development and commercial finance institutions will have an effect on the achievement of climate and biodiversity goals
      • Critical role of governments and investors to direct money flows to greener initiatives
    • Negotiation process of the new global biodiversity framework for the UN CBD
    • Unique scenario to address biodiversity loss and the linkages between health and the environment to catalyse transformational change
    • High Ambition Coalition – set a target under the new biodiversity framework aiming at the conservation of at least 30% of terrestrial and marine areas by 2030
    • Statement on the linkages between biodiversity, health and finance – strong call to keep investing in nature and keep addressing the drivers of biodiversity loss
    • To live a healthy live, we require healthy ecosystems
    • Colombia invites you to explore how to bring the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity to its highest level of commitment

The IPBES Assessment

Eva Spehn, IPBES contact point for Switzerland

  • IPBES Global Assessment Report – alarming trends on the status of biodiversity and ecosystem
  • 25% of species are at risk of extinction
  • Extinction rates have been increasing since the 1900s
  • Ecosystem services = nature contribution’s to people – in decline, except for the material contributions (energy, food, materials)
  • Direct drivers are different for marine and terrestrial ecosystems:
    • For terrestrial ecosystems, the main driver is land-use, followed by climate change – 75% of terrestrial surface is heavily changed by humans
    • For terrestrial ecosystems, the main driver is direct exploitation, followed by direct exploitation – 66% of the marine surface is heavily changed by humans
  • Indirect drivers can be transformed – need for transformative change
    • Mainstreaming biodiversity in other sectors
    • Decreasing harmful subsidies
    • Reduce consumption and waste
    • Promote education on biodiversity and nature
    • Embrace diverse visions of a good life
    • Reduce inequalities
    • Inclusivity and justice in conservation
    • Internalize externalities
    • Ensure environmentally-friendly technologies and innovation
  • Challenges in the next years:
    • Feeding humanity without deteriorating nature
    • Meeting climate goals
    • Conserving and restoring nature
    • Maintaining freshwater resources
    • Sustainable cities
  • Possible actions and pathways to achieve transformative change – for example, producing and consuming food in a sustainable way
  • Swiss IPBES platform – reach out to stakeholders, public, experts, media
  • Call by experts on Swiss newspapers on how to use the pandemic to build back better

It’s time for nature: looking forward

H.E. Franz Perrez, Ambassador for the Environment, Switzerland

  • Biodiversity is the basis of all our life, but trends in biodiversity are not encouraging
  • We are experiencing an unprecedented wave of natural destruction
  • Not sustainable situation, we have to act
  • Today, a group of countries, part of the High Ambition Coalition (Switzerland, Costa Rica, Grenada, Colombia, Gabon, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Seychelles, United Arab Emirates, Spain, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Monaco, and more), has issued a statement
  • Today, we have to act together to do our part to address the current challenges, we have to reassess our relationship with nature, create the right economic incentives
  • Call to protect at least 30% of our planet’s lands and oceans – core call of the group
  • Statement in view of the next UN CBD, for adoption of the post-2020 global framework for biodiversity
  • Highly critical process – needs to deliver a good outcome
  • Negotiation processes taking place in subsidiary body of the CBD, in a specific OEWG – but in other events as well, such as the IUCN World Conservation Congress
  • 4 key elements from the future global biodiversity framework:
    • Set a robust set of goals, targets and indicators to address drivers of biodiversity loss
      • We know what the main drivers are (land-use change, direct exploitation of the land), now we have to formulate the right indicators
      • Protect at least 30% of our planet’s lands and oceans by 2030
      • We need measurable, easy to communicate indicators
    • Ensure that is relevant for the whole biodiversity regime
      • Empower all the instruments adopted to protect biodiversity
      • Need to be endorsed by all biodiversity relevant actors
      • Switzerland organized multi-stakeholders’ conferences to encourage a broad approach, synergies, and common orientation among all the actors
    • Implementation
      • Motivation to implement + assessment of the implementation
      • Switzerland will propose
        • A synergetic reporting system
        • A peer-review mechanism
      • Financing and support
        • Each country has the duty and responsibility to protect biodiversity
        • Biodiversity is a common good and not every country has the capacity to protect biodiversity – cooperation is essential
        • Not only looking at national resources – private investments will be critical
        • Private investments going in the wrong direction are threating biodiversity
        • We need something like article 2.1c of the Paris Agreement – all financial flows should be in line to preserve and sustainably use biodiversity
      • Happy World Environment Day! It can be happy this year, next year and in the future years, if we all act boldly, jointly and strategically to make sure that the new global framework for biodiversity will be robust

Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International

  • Colombia has been leading conservation for years – thank you for the examples you are giving to the world!
  • IPBES has brought nature conservation to a more mediatic environment thanks to their reports
  • We are in contradictory times:
    • All indicators of the state of the planet are going in the wrong direction
    • A number of ecosystems in the planet are going to reach a tipping point
    • We know what is going on, we know the challenges and we know the solutions
    • Awareness of the problem is high
  • Our society has started a transition towards a more sustainable way of living – needs to be faster, deeper and more inclusive
  • Need to accompany economic sectors in the evolution and transition to sustainability
  • To mobilize political and corporate will, we need to be specific – big sectors:
    • Agriculture
    • Fishing
    • Extraction (minerals and forestry)
    • Infrastructure
  • 2021 – we need to protect more, at least 30% protected land and sea, but then we have to manage sustainably the rest
  • We have to tackle the economic drivers:
    • Mindset and cultural – cultural revolution in how we look at nature: shift the sentiment from sadness to concern – we have a moral duty to coexist with biodiversity and nature is indispensable for us
  • Stop taking nature for granted
    • Political and corporate will – we know what we have to do and we have the means
    • Recovery plans are a great opportunity – transformation can happen quicker than we imagined


Yves Lador

  • IPBES is as important as the IPCC. The IPCC has the 1.5°C red line as a clear reference in the public debate. IPBES has not yet produce such a clear indicator. Will it and would it take the Swiss suggested indicators?
  • Will the CBD and other ecosystems related MEAs be inspired by the success of the UPR in the human rights framework?

Andres del Castillo

  • There is an increasing demand for plastic products to operationalize biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. What can be done by governments at the global level, taking into account that plastic pollution is a driver in the decline of nature?

Sonia Pena, IUCN

  • Perrez mentioned the need for a common reporting and review mechanism for all biodiversity-related conventions once the Post-2020 GBF is adopted. Completely agree. However, how does Switzerland propose to align the different reporting timeframes?

Wondy Asnake Kibret, UNEP

  • Who can take the actions that are desperately needed to make the change? Whether we talk about governments, industries, the private sector, cities – they are all run by people. Are we making enough investment in people to raise awareness and help us all value nature?
  • Values-based education for sustainability has been developing over the last several years to address this knowledge-action gap. But we are not investing enough into that.  how do we change that?
  • Are there any possibilities of integrating lessons from COVID-19 into the new global biodiversity policy framework, in particular the One Health approach?


Franz Perrez

  • 1.5°C is a hook for mitigation, adaptation and financing in the climate change field – we need to find a target can function as a hook for the biodiversity field as well
  • Foreseeing a modular reporting system for the global biodiversity framework – reports together form an overall perspective – UNEP’s DaRT could be a helpful tool
  • All reports complementary and provide the full picture

H.E. Adriana Mendoza

  • Today’s celebration is opportunity to show commitment to biodiversity and nature conservation
  • Different panels to discuss conservation of the Amazon, sustainable use of biodiversity, green business and COVID-19, citizens’ campaigns, cities and the environment, air quality, climate change, circular economy, …
  • Continue promote biodiversity internationally and through the events today we are showing our commitment

Marco Lambertini

  • Concept of carbon neutrality
  • Aiming to half emissions by 2030 and zero emissions by 2050
  • Clear, measurable target for climate change, we need it for nature and biodiversity as well
  • 30% of protection is a good target, but has to be adapted depending on the situation (More than 30% Amazon needs to be protected)
  • Reducing plastic, increasing collection, improving recycling, investing in alternatives

Closing remarks

Bruno Pozzi

  • Agreement on level of ambition, on need to invest in nature, on the need for a global agreement on biodiversity involving governments, private sector, stakeholders
  • Value our planet for what it gives us

Franz Perrez

  • Make sure we don’t have to build back everything better, we need to conserve it already

Marco Lambertini

  • We have to be serious about nature – we cannot take it for granted
  • We need to stop losing nature by 2030
  • We have been developing our economy at expense of the planet, now it is time to use it sustainably

Eva Spehn

  • Scientific consensus that there is no time to lose
  • We will lose species no matter what

H.E. Adriana Mendoza

  • Participate in the launch of WED with Colombia’s President, The UNSG, UNEP’s Executive Secretary

Bruno Pozzi

  • Let’s raise to the occasion, let’s be actors for change



The event was live on facebook.