By Benjamin L. Jones

Photo: Pixabay.

The theme for World Environment Day 2020 is ‘Time for Nature’. It seems a poignant theme for me this year given how the #COVID19 pandemic has effected society. From changing the way, we perceive urban environments to shifting the way we think about what matters in the world, in some ways the #COVID19 pandemic has been the enlightening we need as humans.

Through lockdown and through social distancing measures, like we have in Sweden, people across the world have opened their eyes to nature. Families have been spending more time outdoors, experiencing natural environments as places where you can exercise instead of the gym, as places to eat instead of cafes and places to relax instead of a crowded and sweaty yoga studio. The #COVID19 pandemic has provided Stockholm’s 1.5 million inhabitants with an excuse to truly recognise one of the greenest and most beautiful metropolitan areas in Europe. It has provided a time for nature.

But the #COVID19 pandemic also shows us the value of time. The value of having time to act and time to make changes. As coronavirus spread across Europe, countries that were quick to act and make changes to stop the spread have so far managed to avoid the impacts that #COVID19 may have caused. This is what we need to do for biodiversity.

We need to be quick to act for biodiversity. We can no longer drag our feet and hope that it won’t be as bad as they say. Following the decisions taken by UN Member States in the Convention on Biological Biodiversity, UNEP and its partners are launching the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030). This is a global initiative to restore the relationship between humans and nature. UNEP is also working with world leaders to develop a new and ambitious Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to realize a 2050 Vision of Living in Harmony with Nature.

To live in harmony with nature we need to reverse the negative impact of biodiversity loss and pursue full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. New research conducted by DEEP PhD student Peter Bruce demonstrates how Sweden has a great potential to implement the Sustainable Development Goals in environmental management in Sweden, mainly due to Sweden’s strong existing legislation based on sustainable development and well-anchored national environmental objectives that overlap. The inclusion of these goals in management would specifically help in ensuring that Baltic sea sediments are healthy.

We need to treat nature like we have treated human health during this pandemic, with strong and clear action from global governments alike and World Environment Day exists to recognise this and unite the global community in implementing positive actions that will bring about rapid change.