UN Secretary-General Warns Of The ‘Heavy Hand Of Humankind’


Tomorrow is International Mother Earth Day, and this year’s event will focus on green cities and the mobilization of millions of people to create a sustainable, healthy environment by greening communities worldwide.

Every year on April 22, over a billion people in 190 countries take action for Earth Day. From San Francisco to San Juan, Beijing to Brussels, Moscow to Marrakesh, people plant trees, clean up their communities and contact their elected officials – all on behalf of the environment.

As the world’s population migrates to cities, and as the bleak reality of climate change becomes increasingly clear, the need to create sustainable communities is more important than ever. Earth Day 2014 is seeking to do just that through its global theme: Green Cities.

With smart investments in sustainable technology, forward-thinking public policy, and an educated and active public, we can transform our cities and forge a sustainable future. Nothing is more powerful than the collective action of a billion people.

More than half of the world’s population currently lives in cities. As the urban population grows and the effects of climate change worsen, the simple truth is that our cities have to evolve.

“Each year on Mother Earth Day, we reflect on our relationship with the planet that supports us,” explained UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil that grows our food are part of a delicate global ecosystem that is increasingly under pressure from human activities. From tropical deforestation to depleted ocean fisheries, from growing freshwater shortages to the rapid decline of biodiversity and increasingly polluted skies and seas in many parts of the world, we see the heavy hand of humankind.

“As our population grows, we have to recognize that our consumption of the planet’s resources is unsustainable. We need a global transformation of attitude and practice. It is especially urgent to address how we generate the energy that drives our progress.  Burning fossil fuels is the principal cause of climate change, which increasingly threatens prosperity and stability in all regions.  That is why world leaders have pledged to reach a global legal climate agreement in 2015.”

Clearly, it’s time for us to invest in efficiency and renewable energy, rebuild our cities and towns, and begin to solve the climate crisis. Over the next two years, the Green Cities campaign will mobilize a global movement to accelerate this transition.

“Action on climate change presents multiple opportunities to reset our relationship with Mother Earth and improve human wellbeing, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable,” added the Secretary-General. “Sustainable energy for all can increase health, wealth and opportunity for billions of people, as can climate-smart agriculture, more efficient cities and better managed and protected forests.

“To generate ambitious action on the ground and raise momentum for a new climate treaty in 2015, I am convening a climate summit in New York on 23 September this year. I am inviting Heads of State and Government along with private sector and civil society leaders to showcase initiatives and forge alliances that can help launch a sustainable future. But, they need support and encouragement, for change is never easy. So on International Mother Earth Day, I appeal to all people everywhere to raise their voices. Speak out on behalf of this planet, our only home.  Let us care for Mother Earth, so she can continue to care for us as she has done for millennia.”