World Conservation Conference – An agreement should stop the extinction of species – but is that enough? – Knowledge


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In Kunming, 200 countries set the first goals for a species protection agreement. How realistic is their implementation?

The World Conservation Conference is taking place this week in Kunming, China. Almost 200 signatory states to the UNO Convention are taking part. The goal: to preserve the biological diversity of our planet.

A joint agreement, a written guarantee for more biodiversity and species diversity, should ensure this. The final negotiations will not take place until May 2022. But yesterday the participants agreed on a few key points.

But which ones are they? And what is the point of the Kunming Declaration anyway? The most important questions – answered by science editor Thomas Häusler.

Thomas Haeusler

science editor


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Thomas Häusler is a science editor at SRF. He has a doctorate in biochemistry and completed further training in water management at the University of Geneva. Since 2013 he has been head of the science department.

What are the goals of the agreement?

A first draft of the agreement shows that by 2030, 30 percent of the global land area and seas are to be designated as protected areas. In rural areas, that would be almost twice as much as today. In the case of the oceans, even more than three times as much. The use of pesticides should also be reduced by 2/3. In addition, the billions in subsidies that damage natural diversity – for example for overly intensive agriculture – are to be spent in future on preserving nature or renaturing destroyed natural areas.

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In the future, the indigenous population should also be included in the creation of protected areas. This has not always been the case up to now, although, as studies show, the local population often protects their natural space better than some nature reserves with their rangers.

A man sits in a canoe

Legend:

When a protected area is created, it sometimes happens that the local population is driven out of the area – even though they are the best at protecting nature.

Imago Images

Where is the world currently in terms of species protection?

An estimated one million species are threatened with extinction. The pace of this species extinction has increased: it has never been faster in the last 10 million years than it is today. There are also threatening signs that affect entire natural areas. Deforestation in the Amazon, the many fires and global warming could result in part of the huge rainforest becoming a savannah.

Why does this matter to us?

Because that has devastating consequences – and not only for the large-scale climate in the Amazon and the agriculture there. The rainforest binds large amounts of carbon. The conclusion of all reports dedicated to species protection is: the decline of biodiversity also endangers the livelihood of us humans.

How is biodiversity in Switzerland?

We also have many unsolved problems. For example in agriculture: the conflicts about how intensive it can be, how many compensation areas the farmers have to create on their land, which part of the billions in subsidies should be linked to ecological conditions.

Or in the renaturation of bodies of water: although some things have improved in recent years, interests also collide here. Those of nature and those of the electricity companies, for example. The last votes in Ticino and Graubünden on new protected areas have also shown how difficult it is to win over the population for them.

Riverbed

Legend:

In the case of the Nozon river in the canton of Vaud, renaturation has been successful.

Keystone / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT

How realistic are the goals for the world community?

It would be important for the architects of the resolutions not only to write in goals, but also to include mechanisms with which the achievement of goals can be checked. There will probably be no sanctions for missed goals – that would have no chance politically. No country wants to restrict its sovereignty in this way. This can also be seen in the Paris Agreement: Even after five years, there are too few concrete steps. Biodiversity will probably be no different.

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