Sir David Attenborough says he has “some hope for the future” for the world in the face of the problems which are destroying it.
His hope comes from the fact that the “unparalleled” severity of the problems of the world are shared by all nations and modern technology means people globally can see within minutes its impact and the work that is being done to change it.
The naturalist and broadcaster was speaking just weeks ahead of the Cop26 climate change talks in Glasgow and as he collected the Chatham House Centenary Lifetime Award.
The honour was awarded by the Chatham House study institute which described him as “one of the most compelling voices on biodiversity and climate change”.
Sir David, 95, said there has been “an extraordinary change” recently in that the destruction which has been inflicted on the world is being met with discussion instead of argument.
He said: “In the past, up until really right now, international relationships have been dominated by argument, by people with one point of view disagreeing with people with another point of view.
“But now there is a difference.
“Now the major problems that face the nations of the world are the same for all nations.
“The world is being destroyed.
“We are doing it.
“There is no doubt about that, so that for the first time the nations of the world should not be arguing with one another.
“On the contrary, they should be standing shoulder to shoulder to identify what the problems are and find the solutions because it is in all the nations’ advantage that we should see these clearly and agree to take action in a unified way.”
He also said that has been a change in the way humanity communicates with itself which now enables people to be heard within minutes across the world and to “see the pictures of devastation or of hope”.
Sir David said: “For the first time people around the world will hear the arguments as to what we should, the analyses as to what the problems are and what the solutions are.
“Those two things bring me some hope.”
Looking ahead to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as Cop26, Sir David believes it is a time when “the nations of the world, the haves as well as the have nots, will be getting together with the same object in view, to solve the disasters we are inflicting upon this planet”.
He said: “That is a marvellous situation to be in because it is the first time that it seems there will be a possibility in which we can all agree what the problems are and what the solutions are.”
He said “the most powerful dynamic” force for the decision makers at Cop26 should take on board is that a generation of young people will be tuning in.
Sir David added they are interested because “it is their future, they understand now what the problems are worldwide”.
As part of the institute’s centenary celebrations, Chatham House has created three awards to recognise those who have made an outstanding contribution to confronting challenges facing the world today.
Climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg has been named as the winner of the Changemaker Award winner while Black Lives Matter won the Diversity Champion Award.