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Calls for world leaders to prioritise biodiversity

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Millipede in a dune forest of South Africa. There is great concern around the world that we are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate. Image credit: Leon Louw for WhyAfrica

Calls for world leaders to prioritise biodiversity

World leaders must deliver an ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15 this December to secure a nature-positive world this decade, in support of climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals.

This is the message from almost 350 civil society leaders around the world. These leaders, across science, civil society, Indigenous Peoples, faith, youth and business express “deep concerns at the lack of ambition among government parties.”

The civil society warning is backed by a new survey of more than 400 business, science, civil society and government leaders, launching on Biodiversity Day at COP27. The survey reveals that despite national governments being considered the most important actors to lead the ‘Nature Agenda’, a lack of political support, policies, and incentives are causing significant barriers to progress on nature.

A distressing 88% of experts believe the state of the world’s nature to be ‘alarming’ or ‘catastrophic and potentially irreversible’, and only 1% view the state of nature in the world as ‘satisfactory’. Most experts (61%) believe there is a societal failure to account for nature’s value.

Human activities drive biodiversity loss (Calls for world leaders to prioritise biodiversity)

“The science has been very clear: human activities are driving accelerating biodiversity loss which in turn is undermining our ability to limit global warming to 1.5C.

“Entire ecosystems are heading toward collapse, with devastating consequences for people and the planet. COP15 is a momentous opportunity to transition the global economy to one that works with nature, rather than against it.

“There’s no more time to waste. Experts know it, business leaders know it, the public know it. We need world leaders to prioritise the negotiations and ministers from all sectors to be in Montreal – with a clear mandate to secure an ambitious agreement. We need all hands on deck to get a nature-positive deal for nature through,” says Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.

Organisations that participated in the survey included IKEA, Suzano and Danone.

According to Henri Bruxelles, Executive Vice President, Chief Sustainability & Strategic Business Development Officer, Danone, commented we all must take collective action to stop and reverse biodiversity loss.

“Business has an essential role to play, including through the elimination of deforestation and conversion, preservation and restoration of wetlands, and acceleration of regenerative agriculture in our supply chains. But even if we are fully committed, voluntary actions won’t be enough: we need everyone to step up and drive a clear and ambitious Nature Agenda,” says Bruxelles.

Framework needed to drive transformation (Calls for world leaders to prioritise biodiversity)

“COP15 is a critical opportunity for governments to lead and create an ambitious framework along with enabling conditions to drive transformation on the ground. Through this, we can help unleash the private sector’s potential, including via mandatory requirements for business and finance to assess and disclose nature impacts,” adds Bruxelles.

Of the 400+ expert stakeholders surveyed, across the Global South and Global North, by global insights and advisory consultancy, GlobeScan, very few believe governments (7%) or the private sector (8%) are performing well in protecting nature. Both national governments and the private sector are cited as not meeting expectations to act. A majority of experts (55%) view government action to protect nature as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’, with the private sector at 61%.

Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research commented says that evidence is clear that the potential to adapt to climate change is not limitless and cannot substitute for ambitious mitigation.

“To have a 50% chance of achieving 1.5°C and thus limiting tipping point risks, global greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by half by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050,” says Rockström.

“Critically, these pathways rely on the continuing capacity of nature to operate as a carbon sink and to buffer against the worst impacts of climate change. 1.5°C is not a goal. It is a biophysical limit. Nature is one of the best climate solutions for remaining within that limit. An ambitious global framework for biodiversity at COP15 that addresses root causes of decline of the global commons is urgent and necessary.”

This concern is echoed by civil society; 64% of individuals surveyed across 11 countries warn the state of nature and biodiversity across the world is ‘alarming’ or ‘catastrophic’. Almost two thirds (65%) of the general public regularly worry that there will not be enough nature for future generations. Only two in 10 people agree that ‘economic development’ is more important than protecting nature.

Survey shows we are not doing enough (Calls for world leaders to prioritise biodiversity)

According to Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy this new data reveals two things: first, people in every part of the world are concerned about nature loss and two, we are not doing enough.

“We must set the world on a safer climate path, and we must act now to reverse and halt biodiversity loss. From November to December of this year we have a rare moment where world leaders will convene twice to discuss these issues and we must use them wisely and be bold to go from promises to progress – from discourse to decisions,” says Morris.

The survey, also found six in ten (60%) of business, NGO, government and academic experts are at least partly optimistic about the potential for collective efforts to protect and restore nature. A quarter (25%) of companies were found to be engaged with Science-based Targets for Nature, another quarter (24%) are considering this initiative, and a third (32%) are considering the Taskforce for Nature-Related Financial Disclosures.

The non-state actor group reaffirms that the biodiversity conference, taking place from 7th to 19th December in Montreal, Canada, is a once-in-a-decade opportunity for global leaders to come together to agree a new, ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) which can address the global nature and biodiversity crisis. The creation of a GBF at COP15 will act as a lifeline for ecosystems under extreme pressure, as well as Indigenous Peoples and local communities that may be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of nature and biodiversity loss; higher over the last 50 years than at any other point in human history.

Calls for world leaders to prioritise biodiversity

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Calls for world leaders to prioritise biodiversity


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