Nairobi, 30 November (IPS) – Up to 1 million species are threatened with extinction – many within a few decades – this number includes almost a third of reef-forming corals, relatives of sharks and marine mammals. Half of agricultural expansion took place at the expense of forests and 85% of wetlands were present in the early 18th centuryorder century was lost in 2000, with the loss of wetlands considered to have occurred three times faster, as a percentage, than the loss of forests.
Speaking to IPS before the United Nations Conference on Biological Diversity (COP15) about the urgent need to accelerate measures to prevent biodiversity loss, Dr Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary of the IPBESsays the loss we hear about is just the tip of the iceberg.
“The year 2019”IPBES has warned the world that a million species of plants and animals, of an estimated total of eight million, are currently facing extinction, many species within a few decades. One third of coral reefs are threatened with extinction. Nature is being destroyed at a rate and scale unprecedented in human history,” she warned.
She said that the first reason for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is because this is the right thing to do from an ethical and moral point of view, “it should not be for the sake of one species, human , but extermination of species that are not human. humanity on our common planet. But the second more important reason than selfishness is that the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is also a matter of ensuring human survival and a good quality of life.”
Biodiversity is at the heart of human development and its conservation is very important to people everywhere in the world. According to IPBES, 50,000 species of wildlife meet the needs of billions of people worldwide, providing food, cosmetics, shelter, clothing, medicine and inspiration.
One in five people rely on wild plants, algae and fungi for food and income; 2.4 billion people rely on firewood for cooking and about 90% of the 120 million fisheries are supported by small-scale fishing.
This is only a fraction of the material contribution to humanity, Larigauderie says, along with countless immaterial and regulatory contributions such as maintaining air and soil quality, controlling emerging diseases and pollinating crops. .
Against this backdrop, Larigauderie said COP 15, to be held in Montreal, Canada, from December 7 to 19, sets the stage for a new Global Biodiversity Framework, which is hoped to be a plan that has quantifiable and well-resourced to guide the restoration of all life on Earth and its contributions to humanity by 2030.
She talks about the failed Aichi Biodiversity Goals 2011-2020, a strategic plan designed to prevent the loss of biodiversity, and how none of them The 20 goals agreed by governments for 2020 are fully achieved at the global level.
“COP15 is an opportunity to raise standards—refresh the momentum of global community ambitions. The most desirable outcome would be an agreement whose objectives are backed by sufficient resources and are quantified,” she stressed.
For example, target Aichi 11 calls for effective protection of 17% of land and inland waters and 10% of marine and coastal areas; Now she says, “the threshold has been raised significantly under the new draft framework, to 30 per cent to be protected by 2030. It is a challenge but doable with the right financial means. fit.”
In addition to 30%, measures should be taken for the unprotected 70%. The text therefore includes goals for integrating biodiversity into important economic sectors, such as agriculture, fishing, and economic and financial systems, to reduce their impact. for biodiversity.
“Agriculture is one of the main causes of biodiversity loss because it competes with nature for land and because it pollutes nature. Governments can help farmers transition to more eco-friendly farming practices,” she commented.
Science can inform the transition to new sustainable pathways for agriculture, fishing and food systems, among other things, to help conserve and use, she adds. sustainable biodiversity. Larigauderie emphasizes the need to move to these new paths for the benefit of nature and people for present and future generations.
She also stressed the need to support developing countries that are now expected to develop while protecting their biodiversity, unlike more developed countries, which ensure their development by taking advantage of their natural resources.
Speaking about the recently concluded United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), Larigauderie said it is important to recognize and act on the link between climate change and biodiversity loss. Research has determined that climate change is the main cause of biodiversity loss.
“It is very important for the climate change community to take biodiversity into account. The topic of biodiversity remains very low on the agenda on climate change. However, we know that there can never be a lasting solution to climate change without better treatment of nature,” she said.
“Furthermore, several proposed measures to mitigate climate change are harmful to biodiversity, exacerbating the ongoing biodiversity crisis and ultimately the climate change crisis. .”
These measures could include planting biofuel crops, also known as energy crops, such as sugar cane and soybeans, on a large scale to avoid the use of fossil fuels, she said. Initially, such crops were grown on marginal lands.
But with very little marginal land remaining, parts of natural ecosystems are being converted to agricultural land, often for short-term profits, which further harms biodiversity.
Another example of a strategy to combat climate change harming biodiversity could be tree planting schemes, she said. Instead of working to reduce emissions, “people contribute money to tree-planting schemes to offset their carbon footprint. People plant trees and carry on business as usual.”
“Tree planting schemes can also cause social problems when indigenous peoples are displaced or ecological problems when trees are planted without taking into account ecological principles such as planting water-intensive crops in arid regions, causing severe water scarcity.”
Instead, it is important to implement solutions that take both crises into account and combat climate change and biodiversity loss together.
As governments from around the world gather at COP 15, it is an important opportunity to act for nature. Doing so will call on the global community to take advantage of the established post-2020 biodiversity framework. The result could also be a framework for changing society’s relationship with biodiversity, healing the planet and ensuring the sustainability of humanity.
Report of the UN IPS Office
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