As countries marked the World Environment Day, science academies from the Commonwealth including the Rwanda Academy of Sciences have issued a statement calling on governments to work together towards a resilient and environmentally sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement urged governments to leverage the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to address climate change and biodiversity loss, and to ensure that global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is environmentally sustainable.
“Delivering action on the urgent and interlinked challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and sustainable energy provision presents economic, social and environmental opportunities for the whole Commonwealth,” the statement reads in part.
Science academies have also urged governments to work with the global research community to address climate change and biodiversity without causing unintended damage.
The statement has been signed by 18 science academies from across the Commonwealth, representing big and small nations around the globe, and talks about the opportunities to capitalise on the bloc’s strengths and the importance of international collaboration.
Science academies say that countries face challenges in seeking to limit additional warming beyond the acceptable levels.
Yet, increases in global temperature will be associated with an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events at the local, regional and global scales.
Current extinction rates of known species are at an all-time high, and the abundance of wild organisms is declining worldwide across all observed groups, including fish, corals, birds, mammals, insects, amphibians and plants.
This has both a significant impact on ecosystems, the services they provide to humanity, such as food, pollination, and water purification, and to resilience to climate change hazards, such as the prevention of flooding, the mitigation of storms and resistance to novel pests and diseases.
“Failure to tackle these combined challenges in the increasingly narrowing timescale required will pose significant risks to human development and welfare, societal inequalities, and impact all Commonwealth countries, particularly those that are most vulnerable,” they said.
Therefore, science academies said, governments must take urgent action to address these issues.
Dr. Manasseh Mbonye, the President of the Rwanda Academy of Sciences (RAS) says the world has experienced dramatic threats and that reversing the trend will be based on how much people respond.
“Over the last 100 years or so, across the globe people’s standards of living have gone up considerably as poverty reduction efforts have increased,” he says.
“These achievements have, however, generally come at the expense of dangerously deteriorating state of climate change, resulting from increasing global temperatures driven by man-made greenhouse gases,” he adds.
Mbonye highlights that this is coupled with growing unacceptable levels of global environmental degradation.
“As a consequence, the future survival of the world's biodiversity, in general and that of human species in particular, will directly depend on the ability for the world to reverse its destructive trends,” he notes.Follow https://twitter.com/Julio_Bizimungu