Reports from the UN Biodiversity Summit taking place this week:
Biodiversity Crisis: World Leaders pledge to ‘reverse’ destruction of the natural world by 2030
Writing for the Independent Environment online Harry Cockburn reports on a 30×30 commitment by political leaders which aims to protect 30 per cent of land and ocean around the planet by the next decade.
Political leaders from 64 countries participating in the United Nations biodiversity summit this week have signed a pledge which they say recognises the scale of the destruction currently being wrought on the natural world and signals an ambition to reverse biodiversity loss within the next 10 years.
The announcement, which also calls on others to step up global action to address the extinction crisis, comes ahead of the virtual summit, which will be hosted from New York on Wednesday.
“We are in a state of planetary emergency,” the pledge reads. “The interdependent crises of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation and climate change – driven in large part by unsustainable production and consumption – require urgent and immediate global action.
“Science clearly shows that biodiversity loss, land and ocean degradation, pollution, resource depletion and climate change are accelerating at an unprecedented rate. This acceleration is causing irreversible harm to our life support systems and aggravating poverty and inequalities as well as hunger and malnutrition.
“Unless halted and reversed with immediate effect, it will cause significant damage to global economic, social and political resilience and stability and will render achieving the [UN’s] Sustainable Development Goals impossible.”
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UN Biodiversity Summit and forest protection
Writing for the Ecologist online https://theecologist.org Sally Clark reports that as part of the pledge governments will protect forests from the continuing destruction they face from industry.
This year’s United Nations Biodiversity Summit is a vital opportunity to protect threatened forests and wildlife from destructive industries. This week’s UN Summit on Biodiversity is highlighting an alarming acceleration in biodiversity loss and calling for “urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development.”
This focus on protecting biodiversity is crucial. We rely on nature to protect and sustain us, yet it is facing a crisis like never before. The recent UN Global Biodiversity Outlook report warns that “biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate” and governments have not met any of the 2010 Aichi biodiversity targets to protect ecosystems and promote sustainability.
Around the world, logging, industrial fishing, agriculture and fossil fuel extraction are destroying precious habitats, while increasing numbers of environmental defenders are risking, and losing, their lives to protect land and wildlife from corporate exploitation.
Some of the most threatened habitats on earth are our forests. There has rightly been a global outcry at the growing destruction of the Amazon and Congo rainforests but these are not the only forests which urgently need our help.
The Southeastern USA is home to some of the most biodiverse forests in the world but they are under threat from large-scale biomass: an industry which disguises forest destruction and tree burning in UK power stations as a “carbon-neutral climate solution” and uses our energy bills to fund its burning.
However, there are reasons for hope. As 64 world leaders pledge to reduce deforestation and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, this year’s UN Summit on Biodiversity is a key opportunity to stand up to the biomass industry and other polluters which value forest destruction over forest protection.
Why is biodiversity so important? Defined as the “variety of life on earth in all its forms and interactions”, the UN describes biodiversity as: “the foundation that supports all life on land and below water.” Not only do all living beings depend on biodiversity for clean air, water and food, but the World Health Organisation emphasises the crucial role which ecosystems play in supporting human health through medicine, nutrition and the control of infectious diseases.
As well as supporting our physical health, we have seen during the coronavirus crisis that nature provides many people with solace and joy, even in the darkest of times. As David Attenborough notes: “The natural world produces the comfort that can come from nothing else. […] If we damage the natural world, we damage ourselves.”
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