“Today peace faces a new danger: the climate emergency, which threatens our security, our livelihoods, and our lives. That is why it is the focus of this year’s International Day of Peace. And it’s why I am convening a Climate Action Summit.”
— UN Secretary-General António Guterres
Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.
The United Nations Member States adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 because they understood that it would not be possible to build a peaceful world if steps were not taken to achieve economic and social development for all people everywhere, and ensure that their rights were protected. The Sustainable Goals cover a broad range of issues, including poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, environment, and social justice.
Sustainable Development Goal 13 “Climate Action” is a call for immediate action by all to lower greenhouse emissions, build resilience and improve education on climate change.
Affordable, scalable solutions such as renewable energy, clean technologies are available to enable countries to leapfrog to greener, more resilient economies.
The theme draws attention to the importance of combatting climate change as a way to protect and promote peace throughout the world.
Climate change causes clear threats to international peace and security. Natural disasters displace three times as many people as conflicts, forcing millions to leave their homes and seek safety elsewhere. The salinization of water and crops is endangering food security, and the impact on public health is escalating. The growing tensions over resources and mass movements of people are affecting every country on every continent.
Peace can only be achieved if concrete action is taken to combat climate change. Speaking to young Māoris and people of the Pacific islands in New Zealand in May, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said “nature does not negotiate” and emphasized four key measures that Governments should prioritize in order to reach carbon neutrality by 2050: tax pollution, not people; stop subsidizing fossil fuels; stop building new coal plants by 2020; focus on a green economy, not a grey economy.
On 23 September, the United Nations is convening a Climate Action Summit with concrete and realistic plans to accelerate action to implement the Paris Agreement. The Summit will focus on the heart of the problem – the sectors that create the most emissions and the areas where building resilience could make the biggest difference – as well as provide leaders and partners the opportunity to demonstrate real climate action and showcase their ambition.
In the lead up to the International Day of Peace on 21 September, the United Nations calls upon all to take action to tackle climate change. Every human is part of the solution – from turning off the lights to taking public transport, to organizing an awareness-raising campaign in your community. Share your ideas and activities with us through #PeaceDay and #ClimateAction.
“It is possible to achieve our goals, but we need decisions, political will, and transformational policies to allow us to still live in peace with our own climate.”
– Secretary-General António Guterres, 15 May 2019
Young people are stepping up to the challenge – close to half a million youth around the world have taken action on climate change in their homes, schools, and communities. According to UNFCCC, they are key actors in raising awareness, running educational programs, promoting sustainable lifestyles, conserving nature, supporting renewable energy, adopting environmentally-friendly practices and implementing adaptation and mitigation projects.
This year, the International Day of Peace Student Observance, to take place on 20 September 2019 at United Nations Headquarters, will provide a platform for young people to showcase the projects that they have undertaken to fight climate change and promote peace. The student observance will be held immediately following the Peace Bell Ceremony, which begins at 9 a.m. with the Secretary-General and will be webcast live at webtv.un.org.