UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- A failure to protect the world's natural resources is a wake-up call for people everywhere, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday.
The secretary-general called for a global alliance in announcing 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity.
"We must counter the perception that people are disconnected from our natural environment. Biodiversity is life. Biodiversity is our life," he said in a statement from New York.
A special U.N. General Assembly meeting in September will give the international community the opportunity to demonstrate "much needed leadership" on global biodiversity, Ban said.
Nations need to keep the world's ecosystems healthy by purifying air and water, stabilizing the Earth's climate and renewing soil fertility, said Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Program.
"The words biodiversity and ecosystems might seem abstract and remote to many people," Steiner said. "But there is nothing abstract about their role in economies and in the lives of billions of people."