Healthy ecosystems can provide around 37% of the mitigation needed to limit the increase in global temperatures.
That’s according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who warned against the “unprecedented threats” facing the world’s ecosystems, which are accelerating climate change.
He noted since 1990, deforestation has caused the loss of more than 290 million hectares of forests that help absorb harmful carbon emissions from the atmosphere.
One million plant and animal species are also at the risk of extinction and more than 90% of marine fish stocks are in decline or overfished.
Mr Guterres adds current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems are projected to undermine progress towards 80% of the targets for the Sustainable Development Goals.
He said: “We must act quickly to reverse these trends and promote transformative change. Solutions exist. By halting environmentally harmful practices, diversifying our food systems and promoting more sustainable production and consumption patterns, we can improve global health, increase food security and strengthen resilience to climate change.
“I urge all – governments, business and civil society – to take urgent action to protect and sustainably manage the fragile and vital web of life on our one and only planet.”