António Guterres: “War against nature is suicidal”

Humanity has been waging a “suicide war” against nature, because nature “responds many times, as we have seen through hurricanes, fires, and severe drought in various regions of the world,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at the opening ceremony designating Lisbon as the European Green Capital.

The Secretary-General emphasized that it is wrong to think we are destroying the planet. For Guterres, no matter how much we harm the planet, “it will continue to spin around the sun for millions of years.” The problem is that “humanity is destroying itself and the possibility of being able to live on the planet, he explained.”

Turning year

In his remarks, the Secretary-General also clarified that 2020 could be the year to make the fight against climate change more efficient. He identified three opportunities to start breaking the “cycle of war, which we are waging against nature”:

  • Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity
  • The 2020 UN Ocean Conference to be held in Lisbon in June
  • COP26, where countries can pledge concrete measures to combat climate change

Guterres pointed out that all these major events will take place during Lisbon’s presidency as the Green Capital of Europe, which comes at a time when there are three battles that are being lost:

  • A time when one million species are at risk of disappearing
  • Increasing pollution, especially plastics, in the ocean
  • Ensuring the Paris Agreement is an effective tool to fight climate change


The UN Secretary-General, however, expressed optimism because the international community knows what needs to be done.  There is “no reason to continue to rely on fossil fuels,’’ when other technologies already exist. He also stressed that another hopeful development is the growing mobilization of youth that demands “political will to drive these transformations.”


This article was originally published by UNRIC, the United Nations Regional Information Centre in Brussels.

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