COP 15: it’s time to decide a future


  • Opinion by Elizabeth Marma (Montreal Canada)
  • Inter Press Service

The sobering reality is that if we continue on our current trajectory, biodiversity and the services it provides will continue to decline, jeopardizing the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and our lives as we know them. Biodiversity decline is expected to accelerate further unless effective measures are taken to address the root causes of biodiversity loss. These causes are often justified by social values, norms and behaviour. Some examples are unsustainable production and consumption patterns, human population dynamics and trends, and technological innovation patterns.

With biodiversity declining faster than ever in human history, our quality of life, well-being and economies are under threat. Globally, more than $44 trillion in assets, or more than half of global GDP, are at risk of biodiversity loss (WEF). Our economies are embedded in natural systems and are heavily dependent on the flow of ecosystem goods and services, such as food, other raw materials, pollination, water filtration and climate regulation. But we still have a chance. We have only a small window left to transform our relationship with biodiversity and create a healthy, profitable and sustainable future. We can still bend the curve of biodiversity loss and leave future generations with prosperity and hope. We can still take steps to support ecosystem resilience, human well-being and global prosperity.

This considers this the decisive decade. This is because beyond this decade, once we get past 2030, the damage to our planet will be irreparable. That doesn’t give us much time, but it does give us a chance. In December in Montreal, Canada, we get that opportunity. It’s probably our only chance. I cannot emphasize that enough. In December, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will bring together world leaders to tackle the biodiversity crisis at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15). The truth is that the outcome of COP 15 will determine humanity’s trajectory on planet Earth.

The ultimate goal of COP 15 is to come forward with a plan, a roadmap to a sustainable future. We call this the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). The framework is currently being negotiated by the parties under the Convention on Biological Diversity and represents a historic opportunity to accelerate action on biodiversity at all levels. It aims to build on the achievements of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Goals and realize the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature. If adopted and implemented, the design framework will put biodiversity on the road to recovery by the end of this decade.

Why is it critical that the GBF is adopted and implemented? Because 90% of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs (WWF UK). Because we have lost half the world’s corals and are losing forest areas the size of 27 football fields per minute (WWF LPR). Because an estimated 4 billion people rely primarily on natural medicines for their health care and about 70 percent of drugs used for cancer are natural or synthetic products inspired by nature (IPBES). Because ecosystem-based approaches (biodiversity) can provide up to 30% of the climate mitigation needed by 2030. As controlled populations of wildlife, including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish, have experienced a devastating 69% decline on average since 1970 have seen (WWF LPR). I could go on.

Some important objectives within the design framework are:

  • Ensure that at least 30 percent of land and sea areas worldwide are protected.
  • Prevent or reduce the introduction and establishment of invasive alien species by 50%.
  • Reduce nutrients lost to the environment by at least half, pesticides by at least two-thirds, and eliminate plastic waste.
  • Using ecosystem-based approaches to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation and ensure that all climate efforts avoid negative impacts on biodiversity.
  • To just and equitably redirect, repurpose, reshape or eliminate incentives that harm biodiversity, and reduce it by at least $500 billion per year.
  • Increase financial resources from all sources to at least USD 200 billion per year, including new, additional and effective financial resources, and international financial flows to developing countries by at least USD 10 billion per year.

The post-2020 global biodiversity framework is not only important, it is critical. It will take a whole society and all government approach and it will take hard work and dedication; but we can do it. We must act now to bend the curve to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. COP 15 will be the most crucial and decisive step towards a better and more sustainable future for future generations. This is our chance. It’s time to decide on a future.

Elizabeth Maruma Mremaa national of the United Republic of Tanzania, is the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity

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© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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