Summit on Biodiversity of the United Nations General Assembly

Bern, 30.09.2020 - Message from the President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga

Mr President of the General Assembly,
Ladies and Gentlemen

People all over the world have to face a new problem in 2020, the Corona crisis, and have to bear the impacts caused by the pandemic on the economy and on our everyday lives.

In addition to the health crisis, we all still have to face two monumental challenges that threaten our very existence: climate change and biodiversity loss.

Five years ago, the international community reached an agreement in Paris on keeping global warming to below 2 °C, and if possible below 1.5 °C. We have yet to make similar progress on biodiversity.

For too long we believed that biodiversity could be protected simply by creating national parks. Conservation is important, but it’s not enough in itself.

We have to rethink our economic model:

  • We need to apply safeguards to financial flows in order to ensure that investment projects do not have a negative impact on biodiversity;
  • Governments must gear their financial incentives and subsidies towards sustainable production methods that do not harm the environment.

It is clear that environment ministers alone cannot solve the problem.

This UN General Assembly summit is an opportunity for heads of state and government to recognize their responsibility to ensure that production does not take place at the expense of nature, and therefore also of people.

I am convinced that the private sector as well realizes that exploiting, polluting or even destroying nature will not pay dividends in the medium term. Quite simply, without a natural environment, we humans no longer have a basis for survival, let alone for economic activity.

This global challenge requires a global solution. The international community adopted the Paris agreement to mitigate climate change. Now we want to adopt an ambitious framework to stop the loss of biodiversity. We need strict, mandatory and assessable global rules.

Switzerland fully endorses the call of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People to protect 30% of our planet’s surface on land and on sea for biodiversity by 2030. In this context, Switzerland has decided to enhance the protection of its soil. By 2050 we intend to stop the spread of settlements, in other words we have a fixed and net zero goal for land use change.

Next year we will adopt a new global framework at the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). I am confident that this framework will encourage all actors both to conserve natural ecosystems and to sustainably manage our use of the environment and curb pollution.

We have to work hard to deliver the CBD's 2050 vision of 'Living in harmony with nature'.

But this is in the interest of us all, throughout the world.

Address for enquiries

Communication DETEC, +41 58 462 55 11


General Secretariat of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications; General Secretariat DETEC

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