Humanity must tackle the biggest risks to biodiversity loss and climate change at the same time, French President Emmanuel Macron told an environmental conference on Friday.
The key message of this year's World Conservation Congress in Marseille is how disappearing species and the destruction of ecosystems are no less important than climate change.
“There is no vaccine for a sick planet,” Mr Macron said at the opening of the conference.
“The battle for the climate - against climate change - is twinned with the battle to preserve and restore biodiversity,” Mr Macron said.
He detailed the urgent need to eliminate pesticides, end plastic pollution and the use of raw materials linked to deforestation.
World leaders must agree on goals and financial commitments for nature as well as on those for the climate, he said.
Mr Macron said he also wants the polar regions to be considered common global assets.
“Reinforcements are on the way,” said Harrison Ford, speaking on behalf of Conservation International.
“It's hard to read the headlines: floods, fires, famines, plagues and tell your children that everything is all right. It's not all right!” he said.
The conference, organised by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), brings together 160 countries, local governments, non-governmental organisations and indigenous groups with the aim of establishing binding global agreements to protect life on Earth.
It will focus on efforts to reverse habitat destruction, unsustainable agriculture and mining.
“We are facing huge challenges. We are seeing the climate changing and affecting hugely our societies,” said IUCN chief Bruno Oberle.
“We are seeing biodiversity disappearing and the pandemic hitting our economies, our families, our health.”
The meeting, delayed from 2020 by the pandemic, comes before crucial UN summits on climate, food systems and biodiversity that could shape the planet's foreseeable future.
Previous IUCN congresses have paved the way for global treaties on biodiversity and the international trade in endangered species.
But efforts to halt the rapid decline in the diversity of animals and plants have so far failed.
The nine-day IUCN meeting will include an update of its Red List of Threatened Species, measuring how close many animals and plants are to vanishing forever.
Experts say that about 135,000 species are currently at risk of extinction due to habitat loss, overexploitation and illegal trade.