COP 15: We are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate, with dire consequences looming
by UN News, CBD, UNEP, IPBES, WWF, agencies
7:52am 5th Dec, 2022
Biodiversity, the variety of all life on earth, is being lost at an alarming rate. Ecosystems, from forests and deserts to freshwater and oceans, are in steep decline. One million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction. Genetic diversity is disappearing.
Underpinning human well-being and livelihoods, biodiversity is the source of essential resources and ecosystem functions that sustain human life, including food production, purification of air and water, and climate stabilization. The planet’s life-support systems are at stake.
While a series of major global assessments provide the scientific basis of the urgent need to address biodiversity loss, policy action lags behind. None of the Aichi Targets of the Strategic Plan on Biodiversity 2011-2020 were achieved.
Held under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the 2022 UN Biodiversity Conference is expected to set the level of ambition for the next decade and take strong action to reverse this trend. This includes addressing the root causes of biodiversity loss that are linked to economic priorities leading to inequitable and unsustainable development.
Biodiversity is essential for the processes that support all life on Earth, including humans. Without a wide range of animals, plants and microorganisms, we cannot have the healthy ecosystems that we rely on to provide us with the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.
Some aspects of biodiversity are instinctively widely valued by people but the more we study biodiversity the more we see that all of it is important – even bugs and bacteria that we can’t see or may not like the look of. There are lots of ways that humans depend upon biodiversity and it is vital for us to conserve it.
Pollinators such as birds, bees and other insects are estimated to be responsible for a third of the world’s crop production. Without pollinators we would not have many of the foods we eat. Agriculture is also reliant upon invertebrates – they help to maintain the health of the soil crops grow in. Soil is teeming with microbes that are vital for liberating nutrients that plants need to grow, which are then also passed to us when we eat them.
Life from the oceans provides the main source of animal protein for many people. Trees, bushes and wetlands and wild grasslands naturally slow down water and help soil to absorb rainfall. When they are removed it can increase flooding.
Trees and other plants clean the air we breathe and help us tackle the global challenge of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide. Coral reefs and mangrove forests act as natural defences protecting coastlines from waves and storms. Many of the medicines that we use in our daily lives originate from plants.
20 Dec. 2022
COP15 ends with new biodiversity agreement. (UNEP)
The United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) ended in Montreal, Canada, on 19 December 2022 with a landmark agreement to guide global action on nature through to 2030. Representatives from 188 governments have been gathered in Montreal for the past two weeks for the important summit.
Chaired by China and hosted by Canada, COP 15 resulted in the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) on the last day of negotiations. The GBF aims to address biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems and protect indigenous rights. The plan includes concrete measures to halt and reverse nature loss, including putting 30 per cent of the planet and 30 per cent of degraded ecosystems under protection by 2030. It also contains proposals to increase finance to developing countries – a major sticking point during talks.
The stakes could not be higher: the planet is experiencing a dangerous decline in nature as a result of human activity. It is experiencing its largest loss of life since the dinosaurs. One million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades.
The Global Biodiversity Framework
The GBF consists of four overarching global goals to protect nature, including: halting human-induced extinction of threatened species and reducing the rate of extinction of all species tenfold by 2050; sustainable use and management of biodiversity to ensure that nature’s contributions to people are valued, maintained and enhanced; fair sharing of the benefits from the utilization of genetic resources, and digital sequence information on genetic resources; and that adequate means of implementing the GBF be accessible to all Parties, particularly Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.
United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Executive Director, Inger Andersen, emphasized that implementation is now key: “The adoption of the Global Biodiversity Framework and the associated package of targets, goals and financing represents but a first step in resetting our relationship with the natural world. Success will be measured by our rapid and consistent progress in implementing, what we have agreed to”.
“For far too long humanity has paved over, fragmented, over-extracted and destroyed the natural world on which we all depend. Now is our chance to shore up and strengthen the web of life, so it can sustain our future. Actions that we take for nature are actions to reduce poverty; they are actions to achieve the sustainable development goals; they are actions to improve human health”.
The GBF also features 23 targets to achieve by 2030, including:
Effective conservation and management of at least 30 per cent of the world’s land, coastal areas and oceans. Currently, 17 percent of land and 8 per cent of marine areas are under protection. Restoration of 30 per cent of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Reduce to near zero the loss of areas of high biodiversity importance and high ecological integrity. Halving global food waste.
Phasing out or reforming subsidies that harm biodiversity by at least $500 billion per year, while scaling up positive incentives for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. Mobilizing at least $200 billion per year from public and private sources for biodiversity-related funding. Raising international financial flows from developed to developing countries to at least US$ 30 billion per year.
Requiring transnational companies and financial institutions to monitor, assess, and transparently disclose risks and impacts on biodiversity through their operations, portfolios, supply and value chains.
Finance at the core
Finance played a key role at COP15, with discussions centring on how much money developed countries will send to developing countries to address biodiversity loss. It was requested that the Global Environment Facility set up a Special Trust Fund – the GBF Fund – to support the implementation of the GBF, in order to ensure an adequate, predictable and timely flow of funds.
Countries also approved a series of related agreements to implement the GBF, including on planning, monitoring, reporting and review, which are all vital to ensure progress is made – in the words of the GBF, to ensure that there is not “a further acceleration in the global rate of species extinction, which is already hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years.”
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6 Dec. 2022
The UN’s key biodiversity conference, COP15, began on December 6th in Montreal, Canada, where negotiators will set new targets and goals aimed at arresting the alarming destruction of nature, due by human activity. The conference is expected to lead to the adoption of a new Global Biodiversity Framework, guiding actions worldwide through 2030, to preserve and protect our natural resources.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres's opening remarks at the UN Biodiversity Conference — COP15:
“We are waging a war on nature. Ecosystems have become playthings of profit. Human activities are laying waste to once-thriving forests, jungles, farmland, oceans, rivers, seas and lakes. Our land, water and air are poisoned by chemicals and pesticides, and choked with plastics. The addiction to fossil fuels has thrown our climate into chaos. Unsustainable production and monstrous consumption habits are degrading our world. Humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction, with a million species at risk of disappearing forever.
All of this destruction comes at a huge price. Lost jobs, economic devastation, rising hunger, higher costs for food, water and energy, diseases, and a degraded planet.That was the central message I wanted to give to this Conference. Humanity’s war on nature is ultimately a war on ourselves.
Nature is humanity’s best friend. Without nature, we have nothing. Without nature, we are nothing. Nature is our life-support system. It is the source and sustainer of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the energy we use, the jobs and economic activity we count on, the species that enrich human life, and the landscapes and waterscapes we call home.
And yet humanity seems hellbent on destruction. We are waging war on nature. This Conference is about the urgent task of making peace. Because today, we are out of harmony with nature. In fact, we are playing an entirely different song. Around the world, for hundreds of years, we have conducted a cacophony of chaos, played with instruments of destruction.
Deforestation and desertification are creating wastelands of once-thriving ecosystems. Our land, water and air are poisoned by chemicals and pesticides, and choked with plastics. Our addiction to fossil fuels has thrown our climate into chaos — from heatwaves and forest fires, to communities parched by heat and drought, or inundated and destroyed by terrifying floods.
Unsustainable production and consumption are sending emissions skyrocketing, and degrading our land, sea and air. Today, one-third of all land is degraded, making it harder to feed growing populations. Plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates —are all at risk. A million species teeter on the brink.
Ocean degradation is accelerating the destruction of life-sustaining coral reefs and other marine ecosystems — and directly affecting those communities that depend on the oceans for their livelihoods.
Multinational corporations are filling their bank accounts while emptying our world of its natural gifts. Ecosystems have become playthings of profit. With our bottomless appetite for unchecked and unequal economic growth, humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction. We are treating nature like a toilet.
And ultimately, we are committing suicide by proxy. Because the loss of nature and biodiversity comes with a steep human cost. A cost we measure in lost jobs, hunger, diseases and deaths. A cost we measure in the estimated US$3 trillion in annual losses by 2030 from ecosystem degradation. A cost we measure in higher prices for water, food and energy. And a cost we measure in the deeply unjust and incalculable losses to the poorest countries, Indigenous populations, women and young people. Those least responsible for this destruction are always the first to feel the impacts. But they are never the last.
This Conference is our chance to stop this orgy of destruction. To move from discord to harmony. And to apply the ambition and action the challenge demands. We need nothing less from this meeting than a bold post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
One that beats back the biodiversity apocalypse by urgently tackling its drivers — land and sea-use change, over exploitation of species, climate change, pollution and invasive non-native species.
One that addresses the root causes of this destruction — harmful subsidies, misdirected investment, unsustainable food systems, and wider patterns of consumption and production.
One that supports other global agreements aiming at protecting our planet — from the Paris Agreement on climate, to agreements on land degradation, forests, oceans, chemicals and pollution that can bring us closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. And one with clear targets, benchmarks and accountability. No excuses. No delays. Promises made must be promises kept. It’s time to forge a peace pact with nature. This requires three concrete actions.
First — Governments must develop bold national action plans across all ministries, from finance and food, to energy and infrastructure. Plans that re-purpose subsidies and tax breaks away from nature-destroying activities towards green solutions like renewable energy, plastic reduction, nature-friendly food production and sustainable resource extraction.
Plans that recognize and protect the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities, who have always been the most effective guardians of biodiversity. And National Biodiversity Finance Plans to help close the finance gap.
Second — The private sector must recognize that profit and protection must go hand-in-hand. In our globalized economies, businesses and investors count on nature’s gifts from all corners of the world. It’s in their best interests to put protection first.
That means the food and agricultural industry moving towards sustainable production and natural means of pollination, pest control and fertilization. It means the timber, chemicals, building and construction industries taking their impacts on nature into account in their business plans. It means the biotech, pharmaceutical and other industries that use biodiversity sharing the benefits fairly and equitably.
It means tough regulatory frameworks and disclosure measures that end greenwashing, and hold the private sector accountable for their actions across every link of their supply chains. And it means challenging the relentless concentration of wealth and power by few that is working against nature and the real interests of the majority. Businesses and investors must be allies of nature, not enemies.
And third — developed countries must provide bold financial support for the countries of the Global South as custodians of our world’s natural wealth. We cannot expect developing countries to shoulder the burden alone.
We need a mechanism that can ensure developing countries have more direct, simpler, and faster access to much-needed financing. We know all too well the bureaucratic hurdles that exist today. International financial institutions and multilateral development banks must align their portfolios with the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
And as a global community, we need to stand with all countries as they protect and restore their ecosystems following decades and centuries of degradation and loss. These natural environments have given us so much. It’s time to give back.
The most important lesson we impart to children is to take responsibility for their actions. What example are we setting when we ourselves are failing this basic test?
I am always deeply inspired by the young environmental activists around the world calling for change and action. But I am also keenly aware that we cannot pass the buck to them to clean up our mess. It is up to us to accept responsibility for the damage we have caused, and take action to fix it.
The deluded dreams of billionaires aside, there is no Planet B. We must fix the world we have.We must cherish this wonderous gift. We must make peace with nature. I urge you to do the right thing. Step up for nature. Step up for biodiversity. Step up for humanity. Together, let’s adopt and deliver an ambitious framework — a peace pact with nature — and pass on a better, greener, bluer and more sustainable world to our children”.
http://news.un.org/en/story/2022/12/1131422 http://bit.ly/3iLIC4c http://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/press-encounter/2022-12-07/un-secretary-generals-press-conference-cop15-biodiversity-conference-delivered
28 Nov. 2022 (WWF)
Nature is declining at rates unprecedented in human history.
“We are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate. We’ve lost half of the world’s warm water corals, and forests the size of roughly one football field vanish every two seconds. Wildlife populations have suffered a two-thirds decline globally in less than 50 years. The future of the natural world is on a knife’s edge”, says Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International.
“Nature holds the answers to many of the world’s most pressing challenges. Failure at COP15 is not an option. It would place us at increased risk from pandemics, exacerbate climate change making it impossible to limit global warming at 1.5C, and stunt economic growth – leaving the poorest people more vulnerable to food and water insecurity".
"To tackle the nature crisis, governments must agree on protecting more of the nature left on the planet while restoring as much as possible and transforming our productive sectors to work with nature, not against it. After many pledges and commitments it’s time for leaders to deliver for people and planet.”
WWF stresses the importance of countries agreeing to a goal of conserving at least 30% of the planet’s land, inland waters and oceans by 2030 through a rights-based approach that recognizes the leadership and rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.
At the same time, action is needed to ensure the remaining 70% of the planet is sustainably managed and restored – and this means addressing the drivers of biodiversity loss, with the same level of urgency. Science is clear that global production and consumption rates are completely unsustainable and are causing serious damage to the natural systems people rely on for their livelihoods and wellbeing.
WWF believes a commitment to half the global footprint of production and consumption by 2030, while recognising huge inequalities between and within countries, is desperately needed in the framework to ensure that key sectors, such as agriculture and food, fisheries, forestry, extractives and infrastructure, are transformed to help deliver a nature-positive world.
Despite a growing number of national leaders committing to secure a global biodiversity agreement, key issues remain unresolved, including how to mobilize the necessary finance. Currently, the biodiversity finance gap is estimated to be US$700 billion annually. WWF is calling for countries to substantially increase finance, including international public finance with developing countries as the beneficiaries, and to align public and private financial flows with nature-positive practices, including through the elimination or repurposing of harmful subsidies and other incentives.
“Leaders must send the message loud and clear that the existential nature crisis must be addressed,” says Lin Li, Senior Director of Global Policy and Advocacy, WWF International. “In 2020, we saw the devastating results of the ten-year ‘Aichi Targets’ – the second consecutive decade in which the world failed to meet any global biodiversity targets. We cannot afford another lost decade for nature, which would be tantamount to dereliction of duty by governments and only cause more human suffering".
"Countries need to sign up to a clear blueprint to deliver the necessary finance - with developed countries supporting the conservation efforts of developing countries - and a strong implementation mechanism requiring countries to review progress against targets and increase action as required, is an essential mechanism to ensure real action is delivered on the ground".
WWF considers key elements of a global biodiversity framework to include:
A mission to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030; A goal to 30% of the planet’s land and water conserved by 2030 through a rights-based approach. A commitment to halve the world’s footprint of production and consumption by 2030.
A comprehensive resource mobilization strategy to finance implementation of the framework. A strong implementation mechanism which offers reviews and ratchets action over time, with agreed indicators to measure progress.
A rights-based approach, recognizing the leadership, rights, and knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities, and a whole of society approach, enabling participation of all sectors of society throughout the implementation of the framework. The inclusion of equitable and rights-based solutions alongside ecosystem-based approaches to deliver benefits for people and nature.
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