UN Official Calls for Urgent Action on Climate Change

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed decried what she called the negative consequences of the current "take, make, and dispose" global economic model, citing harmful environmental and health impacts associated with the extraction of metals used in mobile phones, plastic waste flowing into the oceans, and the huge amount of electronic waste generated every year.

The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, urged delegates at the UN Environment Assembly on March 14 to make 2019 the "year of transformative solutions" in order to avoid "the disastrous effects of climate change." Speaking in Nairobi, Kenya, she said those effects threaten ecosystems, the global economy, health, and security and asked the audience to "reshape the global economy into one that rewards careful stewardship and punishes waste and pollution."

Mohammed decried what she called the negative consequences of the current "take, make, and dispose" global economic model, citing harmful environmental and health impacts associated with the extraction of metals used in mobile phones, plastic waste flowing into the oceans, and the huge amount of electronic waste generated every year. The UN's solution to breaking out of an unsustainable system that is wreaking havoc on the environment is to change the perception that it is necessary to deplete natural resources in order grow the economy, she said. "We can in fact achieve greater economic benefits from innovative approaches to how we eat, purchase, travel, and discard waste."

But she added that some in the private sector and civil society are making a positive change, saying several large hotel chains are committed to reducing water consumption and waste by 50 percent; countries including India and Costa Rica are committed to eliminating single-use plastics; and a project in the Kiribati Islands is providing families with a unique hydroponic system to make food without soil.

Looking ahead to the UN Climate Summit on Sept. 23, Mohammed said UN Secretary-General António Guterres expects world leaders to come to the summit "not with a speech, but with a plan" that will explain how countries expect to drastically reduce emissions, create decent "green jobs," and build sustainable cities.

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