This weekend, the next generation of activists converge on New York as part of the United Nations (UN) Youth Climate Summit that brings together young leaders who are driving climate action. These young changemakers will be meeting as world leaders assemble for the 74th session of the UN General Assembly.
The Youth Summit, which provides a platform for emerging leaders to showcase their work and to engage with decision-makers, also serves as an important lead-in to the 2019 Climate Action Summit being convened by the UN secretary-general. Both events highlight the critical importance of taking swift, decisive action on climate change, including achieving sustainable land and ocean management practices and resilience and adaptation to climate change impacts.
Our best means of fulfilling these objectives and tackling the climate change crisis is through restoring and preserving natural climate solutions — nature itself — but we must act now. Healthy ecosystems provide enormous carbon capture and sequestration benefits that can help stave off the worst effects of climate change, and when we protect and restore nature, we can simultaneously address rapid biodiversity loss.
In order to address the urgent need to restore and protect the natural world, the National Geographic Society and the Wyss Foundation launched the Campaign for Nature in 2018. The Campaign for Nature is a global effort to raise awareness of the threats facing our natural world and to inspire world leaders to take action, informed by science, to protect 30 percent of the planet by 2030.
The ongoing, rapid loss of natural areas across the world poses a grave threat to clean air and clean drinking water, the survival of wildlife, the prosperity of communities, and the world’s ability to protect itself from severe weather, floods, catastrophic wildfires, and other impacts of climate change.
The challenge is sizeable, but it is achievable. Close to half of the planet is still in its natural or semi-natural state. To conserve what is left, we must act now. Our future depends on it.