The veteran broadcaster urged leaders to care for the natural world during a conversation with Prince William at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Sir David told the duke: “The future of the natural world is in our hands. We have never been more powerful.
“We can wreck it with ease. We can wreck it without even knowing we are doing it.”
William asked Sir David: “People of my generation now are beginning to step into positions of leadership around the world.
“The work to save the planet is probably, largely going to happen on our watch.
“What advice do you have for my generation?”
Sir David, 92, responded: “There has never been a time when more people have been out of touch with the natural world, than there is now.
“We have to recognise that every breath of air we take, every mouthful of food we take, comes from the natural world.
“And if we damage the natural world, we damage ourselves. We are one coherent ecosystem.
“It’s not just a question of beauty, or interest, or wonder – it’s the essential part of human life is a healthy planet.”
The duke described it as a “personal treat” to interview Sir David about his decades of work highlighting the importance of the natural world and the urgent challenges facing the next generation of environmental leaders.
The Blue Planet narrator was given a Crystal Award at the forum on Monday for his leadership in environmental stewardship. He narrates the Netflix nature documentary Our Planet, which premieres on April 5.
Tomorrow, the Duke of Cambridge will take part in a panel discussion on mental health, alongside New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.