‘A historic moment for biodiversity’ – but we can’t stop the momentum

 

Biodiversity underpins the health and liveability of our planet, and now after four tough years of negotiating through the pandemic and how to fund the efforts, a new global framework was announced in December.

It has been a long time coming, given scientists have warned that the current biodiversity loss – one million species are estimated to be under threat – could impact and jeopardise ecosystems that we depend on, such as clean water and disease prevention.

On 19 December 2022 at the COP15 in Montreal, more than 190 countries secured a deal to safeguard nature in a pact known as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

It’s a complex issue and there are some significant steps forward, as well as some misgivings about exclusions. 

 

Targets a step forward

The agreement sets biodiversity targets, akin the one set by nations seven years ago to limit global warming to 1.5 – 2 °C.

The framework sets out 23 targets to be achieved by 2030. Some of the stand out targets include:
• Protecting and restoring 30% of the world’s land and seas globally by 2030, while respecting the right of Indigenous peoples who depend on and preserve much of our planet’s existing biodiversity.
• Reducing the extinction rate by tenfold for all species by 2050.

A new approach to investment needed

Addressing the issue will take serious investment. It has been flagged that by 2030, funding for biodiversity from public and private sources must rise to at least US$200 billion per year.

A step forward, but a mixed bag due to complexity of the issue

While the deal was welcomed by scientists and conservation groups, some concerns remain. As would be expected for an agreement of this size and complexity, the deal was not without controversy.

There was disappointment by some about the lack of mandatory reporting requirements for companies to track and disclose their impact on biodiversity.

Several stakeholders said that the agreement felt rushed and their concerns about funds were not addressed. Some of the groups representing interests in Africa, which is home to many biodiversity hotspots, were particularly concerned about the need for more attention to be given to funding to preserve them.

Because the deal is not legally binding, the fear of failure due to the lack of accountability mechanisms is in all countries’ mind. It wouldn’t be the first time as the previous targets set in 2010 for 2020 (Aichi Biodiversity Targets) were not achieved.

Moreover, the deal does not support industries, such as commercial fishing and agriculture, which can struggle to keep biodiversity loss on track, and it does not set specific biodiversity targets for them to centre their work around. It can be challenging for such impactful and prominent industries to succeed in biodiversity preservation without access to the latest science and directed investments.

What is undeniable though, is that the global agreement sends a powerful signal to industry that it will need to reduce negative impacts over time.

Even though there has never been an international agreement to protect nature on this scale, the pressure is on to consider the lack of accountability. This will no doubt be a hot topic in the years leading up the review and setting of the next targets in 2030.

The question remains: how do we ensure we don’t fail nature again as we did in the past?

 

Sources: www.nature.com “Nations forge historic deal to save species: what’s in it and what’s missing”.

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