World summit is ‘last chance’ for nature

Sea turtle

According to the plans, one fifth of degraded marine ecosystems must be restored

Next month’s UN biodiversity summit is the “best and last chance” to halt and reverse the decline of nature, Natural England’s head said.

In December, nearly 200 countries will gather in Montreal, Canada, to agree on a groundbreaking accord to protect nature.

The chair of the government’s wildlife agency, Natural England, said countries need to come together and agree on an ambitious plan.

“This isn’t just about saving rare species,” says Tony Juniper.

“It’s about sustaining the web of life that humanity ultimately depends on, for food, water, health and climate regulation.”

On Wednesday, Natural England and other government agencies will present their views on restoring nature at an event at London’s Royal Society ahead of long-delayed talks.

A healthy natural environment is “the cornerstone of a healthy climate, safe and clean water supply and a resilient food supply,” said the Minister for International Nature, Lord Benyon.

Habitat loss is one of the greatest threats to wildlife

Habitat loss is one of the greatest threats to wildlife

Biodiversity refers to all the different living things on Earth and how they fit together in a delicate web of life. And the new Global Biodiversity Framework is seen as the “nature equivalent” of the Paris Climate Agreement, an international treaty in which countries commit to limit global temperature rise.

Some of the key ambitions for the Biodiversity Summit are:

  • Turning 30% of the Earth’s land and seas into protected areas by 2030

  • Ensuring that by 2050 a “shared vision of living in harmony with nature is fulfilled”

  • Eliminating billions of dollars in environmentally harmful government subsidies and restoring degraded ecosystems.

The summit comes in the wake of what is seen as a disappointing result at the UN climate conference, COP27 in Egypt.

While the charity WWF welcomed a fund for climate change-induced loss and damage enshrined in the final agreement at COP27, it said the failure to agree on more ambitious emissions reduction measures meant “the goal of limiting global warming to 1. 5 °C slipping away with disastrous consequences for the world”.

Dr. Fernanda Carvalho, head of climate policy at WWF, told the BBC at the climate conference: “We must not forget that the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis are the defining crises of our time. If they are not addressed, she added: “we have maybe not a planet to live on”.

The government has committed to protecting 30% of the land and sea by 2030.

Little progress has been made so far, with only 3% of the land and 8% of the sea effectively protected by 2022, according to the Wildlife Trusts.

Northern white rhinoceros

One of the last remaining rhinoceroses of its kind

The cabinet is also criticized by nature activists about missing a deadline for setting nature goals as prescribed by the Environment and Planning Act.

The Cop15 conference in Montreal is taking place almost three years later than originally planned due to repeated delays due to the Covid pandemic.

As a result, the world – over the course of this decade – no longer has goals to halt extinctions and reverse the global loss of nature.

Follow Helen on Twitter @hbriggs and follow Victoria @Vic_Gill

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