UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday warned that the world's current food system -- production, processing, consumption and waste -- is increasingly broken.
"The world's current food system is increasingly broken. Billions of people lack access to proper nutrition. Approximately one-third of what is produced is lost or wasted. The ways in which we grow, process, transport, consume and waste food are leading causes of biodiversity loss, while also contributing to climate change," said Guterres in a message on World Biodiversity Day.
"We must act quickly to reverse these trends and promote transformative change," he said. "Solutions exist. By halting environmentally harmful practices, diversifying our food systems and promoting more sustainable production and consumption patterns, we can improve global health, increase food security and strengthen resilience to climate change."
He urged governments, businesses and civil society to take urgent action to protect and sustainably manage the fragile and vital web of life on earth.
From individual species through entire ecosystems, biological diversity is vital for human health and well-being. Yet the world's ecosystems face unprecedented threats, he said.
An alarming and authoritative new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services reveals that nature is declining at rates never seen before in all of human history, he said.
Since 1990, deforestation has caused the loss of more than 290 million hectares of forests that help to absorb harmful carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere. One million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction and more than 90 percent of marine fish stocks are in decline or overfished, according to the report.
"The impacts on people around the world will be grave. Current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems are projected to undermine progress toward 80 percent of the targets for the Sustainable Development Goals," Guterres warned. "We simply cannot allow this to happen."
World Biodiversity Day falls on May 22. This year's theme is "Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health."