Amidst the triple environmental threat of biodiversity loss, climate disruption and escalating pollution, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday launched the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration on the eve of World Environment Day.
The planet was rapidly reaching a "point of no return," cutting down forests, polluting rivers and oceans, and ploughing grasslands "into oblivion."
"We are ravaging the very ecosystems that underpin our societies," the UN chief warned.
"Our degradation of the natural world is destroying the very food, water and resources needed to survive, and already undermining the well-being of 3.2 billion people -- or 40 percent of humanity," said the top UN official.
But fortunately, the Earth is resilient and "we still have time to reverse the damage we have done," he added.
By restoring ecosystems, he said that "we can drive a transformation that will contribute to the achievement of all the Sustainable Development Goals."。
"Accomplishing these things will not only safeguard the planet's resources. It will create millions of new jobs by 2030, generate returns of over 7 trillion US dollars every year and help eliminate poverty and hunger."
He pointed out that the next 10 years are "our final chance to avert a climate catastrophe, turn back the deadly tide of pollution and end species loss."