Wildlife populations have declined by two thirds on average since 1970, according to the latest assessment by WWF and the Zoological Society of London, which brings together research on more than 4,000 vertebrate species from more than 125 experts around the world. Deforestation, unsustainable agriculture and the illegal wildlife trade are major causes, all of which also contribute to outbreaks of viruses like Covid-19, the researchers said. One million species, around an eighth of the estimated total of animal and plant species, are at risk.
The 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is due to take place in Kunming in China next year. Preparatory meetings have been ongoing on how to revise the Convention on Biological Diversity – the international framework for nature conservation and restoration – and the targets therein.
“There could be a way out of the current conundrum. Pandemic recovery plans – whether stimulus packages, bailouts, strategic funding or targeted policy reforms – present an opportunity for dynamic coordination, international cooperation and holistic thinking around sustainability, if health, nature and climate can be prioritised,” says Malin Oud, Head of Economic Globalisation and Human Rights at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute.
The Road to Kunming: High-Level Workshop on Biodiversity, Climate and Governance
On 22-23rd of October, China Dialogue and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law are hosting the workshop “The Road to Kunming: High-Level Workshop on Biodiversity, Climate and Governance”.
Originally planned as a side-event to the postponed UN Biodiversity Convention COP, this digital workshop gathers policymakers and civil society to ask where we are now on the road to Kunming, explore the synergies between climate change and biodiversity, examine the role of rights and justice in the convention, and ask what leadership role the host country might play.
“The new Kunming targets will need to relate to all five driving forces identified by the Convention on Biological Diversity as underpinning the decline in biodiversity: changes in land and sea use; the direct exploitation of organisms; climate change; pollution; and invasive species. Key areas for negotiation include: targets on protected areas; financing; and the role of indirect drivers,” says Sam Geall, Executive Director at China Dialogue.
One Million Species Are Facing Extinction
Last year, a landmark report by scientists from IPBES (the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) stated that one million species are facing extinction. This year, the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Global Biodiversity Outlook, which tracks the progress of the past 10 years of the Aichi targets, found that only six of the 20 targets had been partially met.
“To really act together will require something more than invocations of cooperation and harmony. Global leadership requires legitimacy and trust. Multilateralism is possible when countries share common goals and work jointly to achieve them in accordance with certain agreed principles. It is not an end in itself but a means to maximise the chances of making effective policy to protect the global commons and promote public goods,” says Malin Oud.
The question is if there is enough common ground and agreed principles to support joint action on biodiversity.
The articles are written in collaboration with China Dialogue: