Unite Behind Environmental Science: Transforming Values and Behaviour is as Important as Restoring Global Ecosystems

Credit: Remi Yuan / Unsplash

By Ana María Hernández Salgar
BONN, May 22 2020 (IPS)

Restoring damaged ecosystems is vital to avoid the collapse of
nature’s most valuable contributions to people, but International
Day for Biological Diversity 2020 should also be a wake-up call
about the importance of addressing our social, economic and
systemic values, because it is these that are driving the
destruction of nature.

We are part of nature, but our choices and behaviours have
pushed the rest of the natural world to the brink of disaster.
Hunger, disease, loss of livelihoods and rising levels of risk and
insecurity are the direct result of our own actions. To shift to a
more sustainable future, the best-available expert evidence tells
us that we need transformative change to reset our fundamental
relationship with our environment.

This will require us to tackle the nature and climate
emergencies directly and simultaneously, uniting behind both
climate and biodiversity science. We have already hit ‘snooze’
for too many decades on the warnings of experts from every
discipline and every region – further delays are entirely at our
own peril.

Transformative change means a fundamental, system-wide
reorganization across technological, economic and social factors.
It means addressing not just the direct and most visible threats to
biodiversity – such as land-use change, overfishing, pollution,
climate change and invasive alien species – but also tackling the
values and behaviours that find expression through indirect drivers
such as population trends, production and consumption patterns,
weak governance and conflicts.

The way we lead our lives and do business has effectively been
freeloading on the bounty that nature contributes to people, taking
for granted the natural processes that revitalize our environment.
Instead of living within our means, we’ve been using up more and
more ‘natural capital’ – well beyond what nature can
replenish – and it’s a debt that is now past due. This is one
of the reasons that the World Economic Forum’s latest
Global Risks Report
recognized that the top five risks to
business around the world are all environmental.

Ana María Hernández Salgar

With the publication last year of the IPBES Global Assessment
Report
, science has spoken: the damage we do to nature can no
longer ever be justified as an externality. When we harm nature, we
directly hurt ourselves as well. When we fail to act as responsible
stewards of the environment, it is our future that we jeopardise.

The good news, however, is that many sustainable solutions to
these problems can also be found in nature – and are, therefore,
still within reach. The efforts that many countries, organizations,
communities and institutions have already put into recovering
biodiversity are beginning to bear fruit.

It is important for us to learn from these good examples, and
from our mistakes, to chart a realistic and rigorous path, with
concrete actions, but based on our different national and regional
circumstances.

Investing in nature holds great promise. Nature-based solutions
to climate change, for instance, such as restoring degraded lands,
can provide more than a third of the mitigation needed by 2030 to
keep climate warming well below 2°C.

Implementing both existing and new policy instruments through
interventions that are integrative, informed, inclusive and
adaptive will enable the global transformation that we need.

Coordinated action at local, national, regional, and
international levels is needed to safeguard remaining habitats,
undertake large-scale restoration of degraded habitats, and more
broadly to place nature at the heart of decision-making and
sustainable development.

Importantly, this will also entail a change in our understanding
of what constitutes a good quality of life – decoupling the idea
of a good and meaningful life from ever-increasing material
consumption and forging individual, collective and organizational
actions towards sustainability.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unavoidable delay in the
planned global negotiations on the post-2020 framework for
biodiversity, but 2020 is still a “Super Year for Nature”. The
world has had the chance this year to see very directly the
importance of changing values, approaches and behaviours, and to
better understand the vital connection between people and
nature.

After this crisis we will confront a ‘new normal’ –
hopefully this will also be a watershed moment with values,
approaches and behaviours – the indirect drivers of change in
nature – at the forefront of policy and action.

The available evidence makes it clear that going back to
‘business as usual’ – ignoring our collective impacts on
nature – would be a grave mistake.

The burning question on this day to commemorate the importance
of nature is if and when we will change and seriously face the
emergencies unfolding around us.

Enquiries: media@ipbes.net

Ana Maria Hernandez is the Chair of IPBES –
the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and
Ecosystem Services, which, much like the IPCC does for climate
change, provides objective scientific assessments about the state
of knowledge regarding the planet’s biodiversity, ecosystems and
the contributions they make to people, as well as options and
actions to protect and sustainably use these vital natural
assets.

The post
Unite Behind Environmental Science: Transforming Values and
Behaviour is as Important as Restoring Global Ecosystems

appeared first on Inter Press
Service
.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Unite Behind Environmental Science: Transforming Values and
Behaviour is as Important as Restoring Global Ecosystems