From humanity’s ‘war on nature’ to the ‘bleakest and darkest’ year yet for humanitarian needs

UN Secretary General António Guterres has warned the world ‘humanity is waging war on nature’ during a virtual address titled ‘The State of the Planet’.

Related: World is ‘doubling down’ on fossil fuels despite climate crisis – UN report


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the UK will commit to a 68% reduction in its annual carbon emissions compared with 1990 levels by 2030, an increase from the current target of 57%. The new target has drawn a mixed response, with many activists and climate experts arguing the government should have committed to a more ambitious, but still feasible, 75% reduction.

Related: Denmark to end new oil and gas exploration in North Sea


A new report published in the The Lancet warns the climate emergency is already endangering public health with rising temperatures and environmental pollutants having fatal consequences for thousands of older men and women around the world.

Related: Climate ‘apocalypse’ fears stopping people having children – study


A new report from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) warns ‘severe long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could push an additional 207 million people into extreme poverty on top of the current pandemic trajectory, bringing the total to over 1 billion by 2030.’

Related: 2021 will be the ‘bleakest and darkest’ yet for humanitarian needs


New research from Oxfam says millions of people in low-income countries have been forced to go without healthcare or have had to pay for it during the coronavirus pandemic, despite billions in emergency World Bank funding.

Related: Yemen ‘one step away from famine’ as donors dry up amid Covid, UN warns


Climate diplomacy and policy experts say the UK’s decision to cut its aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income just a year before it hosts the vital COP26 climate talks will undermine lower-income countries’ confidence in the UK and other donors’ long-term commitment to the talks right when the world’s wealthy need to be rebuilding their trust.

Related: Senior Tories fear £4bn cut to overseas aid will be made permanent


New estimates released by the Campaign to Defend Aid and Development predict the UK’s proposed cuts to its aid budget will see millions lose out on access to education, clean water, and vaccines.

Related: Overseas aid budget for education cut by a quarter this year, data shows


UN staff and diplomats have welcomed the election of US president-elect Joe Biden, with many hopeful that the incoming Biden administration will undo the damage by President Trump’s America First approach over the past four years.

Related: IDB president pledges collaboration with Biden on capital increase, Central America


Representatives from 14 countries representing 40% of the world’s coastlines have pledged to end overfishing, restore dwindling fish populations and stop the flow of plastic pollution into the seas in the next 10 years.

Related: Auditors slam EU for ‘marine protected areas’ that fail to protect ocean


The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says the climate crisis is the number one threat to world heritage with one third of the world’s natural heritage sites at exposed to the impact of climate change.

Related: US plans to protect thousands of miles of coral reefs in Pacific and Caribbean


Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest surged to a 12-year high last year according to new data released by the Brazilian space institute, Inpe.

Related: International lawyers draft plan to criminalise ecosystem destruction


UNDP is facing allegations of fraud and corruption in its work with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) according to a draft report by UNDP’s office of audit and investigations, dated November 2020, which describes ‘financial misstatements’ worth millions of dollars across UNDP’s portfolio of GEF-funded projects around the world.


Attendees of a ‘mock Cop26’ climate summit held online following the postponement of this years summit to next year have agreed a treaty of 18 policies including a ‘commitment to climate education at every level of formal education, tougher ecocide laws, stronger regulation on air quality, banning the offshoring of emissions and a commitment to limiting global heating to below 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.’

Related: Climate change: Temperature analysis shows UN goals ‘within reach’


Philanthropist Bill Gates says the US government should establish the ‘National Institutes of Energy Innovation’ to focus and lead the US’s efforts to innovate in the fight against the climate emergency.


Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) experts and activists are cautiously optimistic about the new Sanitation and Hygiene Fund, though some have expressed concern that the new fund, which is intended to follow a model similar to that of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, could  prove detrimental to development overall by creating an environment where large single-issue organisations compete with each other for official development assistance (ODA) funds at the expense of other sectors.