Statement by the President of Estonia, H.E. Ms. Kersti Kaljulaid at the UN Biodiversity Summit Leaders Dialogue

Dear friends,

Despite ambitious targets and agreements made at the global and regional levels since the Rio Convention, we haven’t been able to slow down the rate of loss and degradation of ecosystems. Also, we have to accept that protected areas are still impacted by global warming, which unavoidably limits the effects of conventional biodiversity preservation tools.

We know that resilience depends on genetic diversity of a population. To avoid isolated and therefore inbred colonies, we need to establish a coherent network of ecosystems and habitats that will allow species to move between reserves.

We need more ecosystemic and long-term thinking, integrated into all sectoral policies. Current production-consumption models do not account for the ecosystem services provided by biodiversity. Detrimental land-use practices, widely used in agriculture and also forestry and polluting the ocean must be halted.

The climate change might already be the most significant driver of biodiversity loss. To this day, nature-based climate solutions, supported by biodiversity, have been underused in climate adaptation strategy, although they can remarkably improve resilience to multiple climate hazards.

The fragmentation of our actions is the main reason why we are not globally efficient in tackling existential environmental crises and have lost valuable time.

We must acknowledge the ‘remote responsibility’ – atmospheric air is one, ocean water is one – common goods do not recognize human drawn borders.

It takes enhanced multilateral cooperation to effectively respond to the current environmental crisis. The United Nations has a fundamental role here. Thereafter, it is crucial, that we do our best to implement the ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework and finalize negotiations for protecting high seas under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The UN-declared “decade on ecosystem restoration” has to be at the center of the Build Back Better approach. The cost of our inaction will be immense and will render achieving the Sustainable Development Goals impossible.

As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, we are in a state of planetary emergency. The current year has revealed to us – perhaps more clearly than ever before – our dependency on healthy ecosystems that reaches far beyond the impacts on our health.

We, humans, are extremely efficient in exploiting natural resources and survive environmental changes. But somewhere there exists a threshold even for us – the edge of the cliff we don’t want to cross.

Take action, take it now, take it together!