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03.06.2022 16:06 Umhverfis-٫ orku- og loftslagsráðuneytið

Ávarp Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar umhverfis-, orku- og loftslagsráðherra á ráðstefnunni Stokkhólmur+50 - Ávarpið er á ensku

Ladies and gentlemen,

The UN Conference on the Human Environment, held here in Stockholm half a century ago, was a seminal event.

It is important to stress that the Conference focused on the Human Environment. Wise use and conservation of nature means safeguarding the livelihood and wellbeing of humankind. The Stockholm Declaration and its Principles are a foundation we can still build on. The UN Sustainable Development Goals are the daughters of Stockholm. The need to deliver on these goals has become urgent.

Fifty years later, we live in a changed world. The Earth‘s population has doubled. Our greenhouse gas emissions have doubled. Arctic sea ice cover has almost halved. The world economy has grown twenty-fold and it has grown increasingly interdependent.

We produce more, we consume more. Never before have so many people had a chance to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Never before has the threat of ecological collapse been as high. Never before has the need for good governance – a wise stewardship of Planet Earth – been as high.

Now, I don‘t want to be alarmist. I firmly believe that we can avoid the worst scenarios of anthropogenic climate change and other perils ahead. A billion people have been lifted out of poverty this century – we can and must continue this winning run.

But that will not happen automatically. It requires determination, and hard work.

This anniversary meeting is a chance to reflect on the past, but its focus is on the future, and on action. Let me mention three priorities.

First – food. We have made great strides towards alleviating hunger in recent decades. Today, we face the threat of a serious setback. In the short run, we need to end a senseless war that threatens vital food supplies for millions. In the long run, we need to fight land degradation, and ensure responsible stewardship of the oceans, which provide proteins and sustenance for billions.

Second – energy. The key to solving the climate crisis lies in our energy systems. We urgently need to move towards clean energy. Iceland has set ambitious climate mitigation goals, despite having completed a clean energy transition in electricity and heating. So have many other countries. But these goals are hard to reach if we waste our resources by vast subsidies for climate-harming practices. Let us end fossil fuels subsidies, and invest instead in renewable energy.

Third – wilderness. Conserving wilderness may seem like a quaint goal besides providing for the vital needs of humankind. But we need to conserve forests, wetlands, coral reefs and other hotspots of life on Earth. We need wild nature for our wellbeing, material as well as spiritual. And we need to restore damaged ecosystems, which is good for the climate as well as biodiversity.

Thank you,


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