We Need Nature and Biodiversity if We Want a Sustainable Future

More than 60 percent of the world’s coral reefs are endangered due to overfishing, destructive practices and climate change, according to the United Nations. Yesterday the first-ever U.N. Summit on Biodiversity concluded with world leaders and experts agreeing on the urgency to preserve biodiversity globally. Credit: Nalisha Adams/IPS

More than 60 percent of the world’s coral reefs are endangered
due to overfishing, destructive practices and climate change,
according to the United Nations. Yesterday the first-ever U.N.
Summit on Biodiversity concluded with world leaders and experts
agreeing on the urgency to preserve biodiversity globally. Credit:
Nalisha Adams/IPS

By Samira Sadeque
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 1 2020 (IPS)

“Investing in nature is investing in a sustainable future,”
was one of the key messages from yesterday’s first-ever United
Nations Summit on Biodiversity where world leaders and experts
agreed� on the urgency to act swiftly to preserve biodiversity
globally. 

“More than 60 percent of the world’s coral reefs are
endangered due to overfishing, destructive practices and climate
change,†U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said in his
opening remarks  at the biodiversity summit, which was held as the
75th Session of the U.N. General Assembly wrapped up this week.

This loss doesn’t come without a cost.

Guterres added that according to an Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimate, the amount of money
required for sustainability of nature is about $300 – 400
billion, which is less than “current levels of harmful subsidies
for agriculture, mining and other destructive industriesâ€.

Guterres also pointed out how this disproportionately affects
poor communities.

According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, between 50
to 90 percent of the livelihoods of poor households comes from
ecosystems.

“Nature offers business opportunities to poor communities,
from sustainable farming to eco-tourism or subsistence fishing,â€
Guterres said.

This year was especially crucial given the COVID-19 pandemic and
the havoc it wreaked across communities around the world.

Volkan Bozkır, president of the General Assembly, pointed out
the world’s  inability to ensure preservation of biodiversity
severely impedes the ability to fight diseases — a result that is
being witnessed first hand this year. It also negatively affects
food security, water supplies, and livelihoods, among other
issues.

“We must be pragmatic: our healthcare systems rely upon rich
biodiversity,†Bozkır said. “Four billion people depend upon
natural medicines for their health, and 70 percent of drugs used
for cancer treatments are drawn from nature.â€

“More than half of the world’s GDP – $44 trillion – is
dependent on nature,†he added. 

Chinese president Xi Jinping addressed the meeting, extending a
warm welcome for next year’s Conference of the Parties to the
Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 15) scheduled to take place
in China. 

“COP15 offers an opportunity for parties to adopt new
strategies for global biodiversity governance,†Xi said. 

Xi proposed a list of steps that leaders can take in order to
ensure biodiversity preservation around the world:

  • Adhere to ecological civilisation and increase the drive for
    building a beautiful world, given that a sound ecosystem is crucial
    for the prosperity of civilisation. “We need to respect nature,
    follow its laws, and protect it,†he said. “We need to find a
    way for man and nature to live in harmony, balance and coordinate
    economic development and ecological protection.â€
  • Uphold multilateralism and build synergy for global governance
    on the environment. “Faced with the risks and challenges
    worldwide, countries share a common stake as passengers [on] the
    same boat, and form a community with a shared future,†Xi said.
    “To enhance global governance on the environment, we must firmly
    safeguard the U.N.-centred international system, and uphold the
    sanctity and authority of international rules.â€
  • Continue with green development and increase potential for high
    quality economic recovery after COVID-19.

Meanwhile, panelists at a “Fireside Chat†panel brought up
the importance of including indigenous communities in the
conversation.


Inger Andersen
, executive director of the U.N. Environment
Programme, said the indigenous community is “critical†to this
conversation.

“Let’s recall they are the owners and managers of one
quarter of global land area, and one third of protected areas,â€
Andersen said. “So safeguarding their right to their land is part
of safeguarding biodiversity.â€


Ana Maria Hernandez Salgar
, the first woman chair of the
Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and
Ecosystem Services (IPBES), also shared a similar sentiment as she
reflected on what, in her experience, has led to true change.

“We have to work collectively: governments, individuals,
private sector, academia, we need to address the root cause of
biodiversity loss – it works,†Salgar said.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the appointed Executive Secretary of the
Convention on Biological Diversity, also spoke on the same panel
and added that it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that
biodiversity, on top of being a concern, is also a solution to some
of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

“We know, 14 out of the 17 SDGs depend on biodiversity, from
nature-based solutions, to climate, to food, water, security,
sustainable livelihood: biodiversity remains the basis for
sustainable future and sustainable development,†Mrema said.

Perhaps the conversation on the link between biodiversity
preservation and humans was most aptly put forth by Achim Steiner
of the U.N. Development Programme who moderated the panel.

At the core of the preservation efforts is how we view the
issue, Steiner said.

It’s not just about nature, it’s about humans too.

“Biodiversity has as much to do with nature as it has to do
with people, people’s dependence on nature, people’s inability
to see the complexities of nature, people’s blindness and
sometimes greed and ignorance and also the planetary blindspots of
our economies.â€

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We Need Nature and Biodiversity if We Want a Sustainable Future

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Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
We Need Nature and Biodiversity if We Want a Sustainable
Future