A look at the global environmental movement: What if? – Low Calorie Diets Tips

Last week, heads of state and other world leaders, including United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, gathered in Stockholm to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. Many historians consider this moment to be the beginning of the modern global environmental movement.

We now understand that the fundamental benefits of a healthy planet are not predetermined. As I sat listening to the Stockholm+50 delegates discuss the significance of the 1972 conference, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What if this meeting had never happened?” What if these leaders never met gathered and declared the environment a major international political issue? What would our world be like today if world leaders had NOT created the United Nations Environment Program in 1972? What if they hadn’t started a global movement to save the planet?

What happened in Stockholm 50 years ago was revolutionary. Unprecedented. Visionary. It was hard. It broke through all the pressures to develop, extract and exploit the natural world. It changed the course of history and brought us into today – a moment when environmental protection is seen as essential to our collective prosperity, security and safety.

In fact, people around the world are realizing the importance of clean air, clean water, a healthy ocean, and land unpolluted by pollution and toxic chemicals. The leaders of this year’s meeting recognized in their official summary that “a healthy planet is a prerequisite for peaceful, cohesive and prosperous societies”.

Deputy Secretary for Oceans and International Environment and Science Affairs Monica Medina is pictured at Stockholm+50 in Stockholm, Sweden in June 2022. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

And yet we are again at a crossroads. A road leads to a planet further weakened by today’s existential environmental challenges – more plastic pollution, more greenhouse gas emissions, rising temperatures and oceans, and ever-increasing biodiversity loss.

The other path leads to a better future in which we live sustainably with nature. A world where, by collaborating with countries and companies around the world, we find a way to balance our need for natural resources with the importance of ensuring their existence for future generations.

So again I ask what if? What happens if we don’t act today? What will we leave behind for future generations? Despite all the progress of the last 50 years, are we willing to abandon them to a planet whose natural systems are in crisis?

We can’t leave them a world drowning in plastic pollution. We can choose a different path if we jointly develop a global agreement that takes an ambitious, innovative and country-specific approach to address the entire plastic lifecycle. In March, countries around the world unanimously decided to work with global stakeholders – businesses and non-profits, national governments and local communities – to craft a global deal to end the scourge of plastic pollution that plagues every inch of this planet.

We cannot leave a world with a barren ocean for future generations. We can choose a different path if we collectively commit to protecting new areas of sea, tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and ending harmful fisheries subsidies. In August we hope for a worldwide agreement to protect the resources of the high seas. And in the next few weeks there is a possibility of an agreement at the World Trade Organization to end the fisheries subsidies that are currently heating up fishing capacity to 250% of the level that corresponds to the maximum sustainable catch.

We cannot leave a world without nature and biodiversity. We may choose a different path if the signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopt the global goal of conserving 30 percent of land and sea and 30 percent of the world’s oceans by 2030 at the next CBD Conference of Parties. The United States will do its part. President Biden has committed to conserving at least 30 percent of home land and water by 2030 and has encouraged other countries to do the same.

Deputy Secretary for Oceans and International Environment and Science Affairs Monica Medina and members of the delegation of the Department of State's Office for Oceans and International Environment and Science Affairs are pictured at the Stockholm+50 in Stockholm, Sweden, in June 2022. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]
Deputy Secretary for Oceans and International Environment and Science Affairs Monica Medina and members of the delegation of the Department of State’s Office for Oceans and International Environment and Science Affairs are pictured at the Stockholm+50 in Stockholm, Sweden, in June 2022. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

We cannot leave future generations with a world too warm to sustain life as we know it. We are not yet moving fast enough to keep global temperature rise within the 1.5 degree limit. But thanks to the Paris Agreement and global innovation, we have the solutions at hand – clean energy, more biodiversity to help conserve carbon, and more financial support for women, youth and marginalized communities hardest hit by climate change.

So what if the world hadn’t acted collectively in 1972? What happens if we don’t act now? Thanks to the 1972 conference, our planet is much healthier than it would have been without all the advances of the last 50 years. We know what it means to have clean air and clean water – even as we understand that the benefits of a healthy planet are not shared universally and that a new generation of environmental degradation threatens everyone’s future.

Nor can we help but act. As we look back at Stockholm+50, we draw inspiration from those who came before us and those who have reunited this past week – by the voices that called for bolder action then and by those who are doing so now . Our children and grandchildren are counting on us. We can’t let them down.

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