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“The house is on fire and we are all locked up due to an illness that results from our poor management of nature.”
Thus, Inger Anderson, head of the UN Environment Program, gave a briefing the day before the event.
“I think there is an awareness that if we don’t take care of nature, we could find ourselves in a difficult situation,” she added.
As the world grapples with the public health, social and economic devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic, leaders are under increasing pressure to act on their promises to reverse the decline in the natural world.
Why does this summit matter?
This summit is primarily a high-level forum for world leaders. Its aim is to “highlight the crisis facing humanity from biodiversity degradation and the urgent need to accelerate action on biodiversity for sustainable development”.
But the point at which real commitments will be made – to take action for nature conservation – will be at the Biodiversity Conference in 2021. This conference, postponed due to the pandemic, is where all member states are expected to adopt a new one. “Biodiversity Framework” – essentially a global treaty to put nature on the road to recovery by 2030
But a UN report released just two weeks ago reveals that none of the 20 biodiversity targets the countries pledged for in 2011 will be fully met.
These goals were ambitious, covering every aspect of how human life intersects with the natural world.
They ranged from reducing the loss of natural habitats such as forests and protecting the most valuable wildlife landscapes, to more fundamental economic changes, such as eliminating subsidies for “harmful activities”, including intensive, polluting agricultural and fishing practices.
Xi Jinping, president of China, the host country of the 2021 conference, used his pre-recorded address to underscore his country’s commitment to changing the biodiversity situation.
“We need to find a way for man to live in harmony with nature,” he said.
Mr Xi also stressed the need for economic recovery, saying green development would “increase the potential for high-quality economic recovery from Covid-19.
“We have to admit that our decisions are in nature – to make a profitable profit.”
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson uses a pre-recorded address to highlight the plight of the scaly, critically endangered pangolin:
“I don’t believe any of us would choose to bequeath a planet to which such an astonishingly bizarre little creature is as unknown to future generations as dinosaurs and dodo are to us today.
“And yet this awaits us if we continue on this path. And this is not just bad news for the Pangolins – it is bad news for all of us.”
But following a recent announcement by the UK government that it will protect more land for nature, the country’s records for biodiversity loss are under control.
Professor Kate Jones of University College London (UCL), which studies the interaction between nature and human health, described the “huge historical decline” in biodiversity in Britain as “terrible”.
What’s different this time?
Inger Anderson insisted that “trillions of dollars invested in stimulus packages” because of the pandemic provided an ideal opportunity to invest in sustainable growth. “We certainly don’t want to go back to our harmful ways,” she said.
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, a multilateral treaty aimed at protecting species, added: “Business, banks, youth – everyone is ready to take action. This is our last chance and everyone has a role to play. to play.”
By destroying the natural world, Professor Jones explained, “we are currently degrading our assets. So our financial systems need to change.”
She added: “With climate change, our house is on a cliff and will soon fall into disrepair. The loss of biodiversity and land use change means it is also on fire – our current trajectory is not sustainable, so we need to do something.
“There’s more talk and action now than there used to be, and I’m more hopeful now that I’ve ever been, but it’s a low band.”
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