Campaigners say this is our last chance to tackle rampant species loss and adopt a strong framework to protect wildlife.
A day before kicking off nearly two weeks of negotiations at the UN biodiversity summit, activists warned on Tuesday that talks taking place this month in Montreal could offer humanity its last chance to to alleviate the global crisis of endemic species loss, and called on policy makers to adopt an ambitious wildlife protection framework.
More than 190 nations will be represented at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), where negotiators will discuss a draft agreement aimed at the conservation, reduction of levels of toxic pollutants and the mitigating the climate crisis.
With an estimated one million species – out of an estimated 8.7 million known species – set to go extinct over the next few decades, advocates said policymakers must reverse more than a decade of failure to meet the targets. set in 2010 at COP10 in Aichi, Japan, including protecting 17% of land and inland waters and conserving coral reefs.
“Now is the time for the world to set bold new goals to protect all species,” said Tierra Curry, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We compromise our own survival by taking nature for granted, decimating wild places and endangering vulnerable communities.
Supporters are pushing the convention’s 196 member countries to adopt 21 goals named in the blueprint to be presented at the meeting, including:
- Protections for at least 30% of land and water by 2030;
- Policies to prevent or reduce invasive species by 50%;
- Disposal of plastic waste;
- The reduction of pesticides in the environment by at least two thirds;
- Recognition of the rights and central role of indigenous peoples in the protection of biodiversity; and
- At least $100 billion in annual funding for developing countries to protect wildlife, provided by wealthy governments.
“If delegates to the Convention on Biological Diversity cannot agree that we should end extinction, that’s a tragic reflection on our values,” Curry said. “We put nature in the basement of our hearts, but it has to be in the penthouse.”
Greenpeace International called the meeting a “watershed moment for global biodiversity”, while Li Shuo, Greenpeace’s senior policy adviser for East Asia, called it a “chance to reinvent itself”.
“It is unacceptable that this process continues to pump out promises and never deliver,” he said. “The negotiations over the next two weeks must generate objectives that will be effectively implemented and supported.”
In his opening remarks on Tuesday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on negotiators to adopt a framework “that addresses the root causes of this destruction”.
“Deforestation and desertification are creating wastelands of once thriving ecosystems,” he said. “Our land, water and air are being poisoned by chemicals and pesticides, and smothered by plastics. Our reliance on fossil fuels has thrown our climate into chaos – from heat waves and wildfires to parched communities by heat and drought, or inundated and destroyed by terrifying floods.
“Apart from the illusory dreams of billionaires, there is no planet B,” added António Guterres. “We have to fix the world we have. We must cherish this wonderful gift. You have to make peace with nature.
Biologist Alexandre Antonelli, scientific director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK, called the conference “one of the most important meetings that mankind has ever had”.
“We have a very narrow window of opportunity to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and reverse its decline by 2050,” Antonelli said. The new statesman In Monday. “We may never have that chance again.”
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