Will the UN Biodiversity Summit stop the rapid loss of nature? | Knowledge & Environment | DW

Human-caused loss of biodiversity is one of the main causes of the sixth mass extinction on this earth. Three quarters of animal and plant species could disappear in just a few centuries. This loss also exacerbates that climate changesince the planet is being deprived of its natural carbon stores, for example through disappearing moors or forests.

Currently, less than 17 percent of the world’s land area and eight percent of the oceans protected areas. The biological diversity here is at least theoretically safe from exploitation, pollution or deforestation – but not from the effects of climate change caused by droughts, floods and Forest fires devastated the biosphere.

The Amazon rainforest, one of the most biodiverse areas on earth, is being destroyed to make way for agriculture

At the current UN Conference on Biological Diversity, COP15, taking place this week in Montreal, Canada, the decline in ecosystems be stopped by placing a total of 30 percent of the world’s land and sea under protection by 2030. “30 by 30” – that’s the catchphrase for it.

Biodiversity is the basis of our life

The Conference of the Parties (COP) meets every two years. She writes the ratified by 195 UN members and the EU Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) from 1992 onwards. This stipulates that the biological diversity of this earth should be preserved through the sustainable use of natural resources.

“Biodiversity is the basis of life,” says Elisabeth Mrema, CBD Executive Secretary. “We depend on biological diversity, whether it’s for our food, our drinking water, the binding of CO2, our medicines or the air we breathe,” Mrema told DW.

Tackling the causes of biodiversity loss

There is great pressure on the current COP15 to set realistic and achievable targets. At the 2010 conference in Japan Nagoya set 20 biodiversity targets, such as halving the loss of natural habitats by 2020. “We basically none of the goals achieved – and things have gotten much worse since then,” says Dave Hole, climate change scientist biodiversity at the US environmental organization Conservation International. “The next ten years are incredibly important!”

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For example, the number of insects that are vital to ecosystems as pollinators is declining sharply. 40 percent of all insect species worldwide could become extinct in the next few decades study from 2019 shows.

Infographic: Causes of insect mortality

At the UN Biodiversity Summit, a roadmap for the recovery of nature by 2030 is to be drawn up; not only by protecting nature but also by tackling 22 causes of biodiversity loss. They include the overexploitation of natural resources, pollution, the spread of alien species and climate change.

Our economy depends on nature

Biodiversity is also vital to the global economy. Since 50 percent of global economic output depends on nature, according to Elisabeth Mrema, protecting biodiversity will not only sustain life on earth, but could also create almost 400 million additional jobs by 2030.

A man reaches for ripe apples in a tree in Damavand, Iran

Without pollination by insects there would be no fruit harvest – and many other sectors of the economy depend directly on intact biological diversity

“But even if the world is ready to take the necessary measures, improving protection will not be an easy task,” said the CBD Executive Secretary.

Annually, a forest area the size of Portugal cut down, with much of the biodiversity being lost. Although half of this area will be reforested, it will not restore the lost ecosystems – and with them the species that once lived there.

What are the stumbling blocks for more nature and species protection?

Mrema believes the 30-30 target is likely to be ratified. But the COP15 effort to double the area of ​​intact biodiversity must consider a number of competing interests. Will for example indigenous peoples ousted from their ancestral land?

Mrema emphasizes that protective measures for the rights of indigenous peoples “and for communities that are the guardians of biological diversity” must also be agreed during the negotiations. “How are their land rights, culture and traditional knowledge protected?”

Although more than 100 countries participating in the Montreal talks have reportedly publicly pledged their support for the 30-30 target, funding will be another sticking point in the negotiations. It is estimated that the current funding gap could be as high as $824 billion per year through 2030.

As with the agreement on compensation for losses and damages by climate change, which on the COP27 climate conference Negotiated last month, developing countries like Gabon, Cuba and Argentina are demanding that rich countries allocate $700 billion annually to biodiversity conservation by 2030. However, the industrialized countries have so far refused to adopt a firm funding mechanism create for nature conservation.

A ray swims over seagrass beds in the underwater world of the Maldives

The destruction of seagrass beds by dredging has severely impacted the biodiversity of the Maldives

A draft of the new agreement on biodiversity envisages that around 500 billion dollars a year in such funds should be restructured, that harm nature – including subsidies for fossil fuels. This is intended to replace the failed 2010 commitment to “remove, phase out or reform incentives, including subsidies, that harm biodiversity”.

How biodiversity and climate protection are related

Dealing with fossil fuels and their emissions, which also destroy nature, illustrates the important connection between biodiversity and climate programs.

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Experts emphasize that every single one of the 30-30 targets is threatened by the onset of global warming and extreme weather conditions. “We cannot find solutions for one if we do not take the other into account,” says Elisabeth Mrema.

Just last week new research results published on global land use. They show that greenhouse gas emissions alone in the global agriculture and forestryprotecting and restoring natural areas must drop to zero by 2030 to avoid catastrophic climate collapse.

A tractor plowing a field

Plowing with heavy machinery destroys soil life and releases greenhouse gases

According to the Conservation International report, protecting biodiversity would help the land sector become one by 2050 greenhouse gas guzzler could become. However, it is currently considered one of the largest emitters and produces around twelve gigatonnes of greenhouse gases every year.

However, such nature-based climate solutions require a greater understanding of the importance of biodiversity. “The climate crisis has been researched much better scientifically than the crisis of species and ecosystems. There is an urgent need to catch up here,” warns Jörg Rocholl, President of the international business school ESMT Berlin. He therefore demands that a price should be paid for all activities that damage nature. The EU-wide system for the Trading in CO2 emissions to serve.

This article has been translated from English.

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