Help nature rejuvenate the planet

For humanity struggling with climate change, December 19, 2022 will be a milestone. On that day, more than 190 countries agreed to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal which seeks to protect 30 percent of the Earth’s land, oceans, coastal areas and inland waters by 2030. Among a host of other measures was a collective commitment to protecting biodiversity.

In Montreal, it was also decided to cut annual environmentally harmful government subsidies by $500 billion. Apart from that, the meeting adopted the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which covers strict overall goals and targets by 2030.

With so many countries agreeing to it, the Convention on Biological Diversity has had nearly universal participation and a convergence of ideas to set a comprehensive agenda that bodes well for the planet.

The Biodiversity Framework hopes, in the coming years, to prioritize ecologically representative protected areas and recognize indigenous and traditional lands and practices. The meeting also decided to cut global food waste by half and greatly reduce overconsumption and waste generation.

Funding change

With a special focus on financing, the meeting decided to mobilize at least $200 billion annually by 2030 in domestic and international biodiversity-related financing from public and private sources. It was also decided to increase annual international financial flows to $20 billion by 2025 and $30 billion by 2030 from developed countries to least developed countries, small island developing states and countries with economies in transition.

The Montreal meeting warned that “without such action, there will be a further acceleration in the global rate of species extinction, which is already at least tens to thousands of times higher than it has been on average over the past 10 million years.”

In order to closely monitor commitments, the Convention requires states to monitor and report on a wide range of headlines and other indicators of progress towards specific conservation goals and targets, every five years or less.

Biodiversity protection

With a focus on protecting biodiversity, goals are set to protect vital ecosystems, including rainforests and wetlands, and the rights of indigenous peoples. Although 17 percent of the world’s terrestrial areas and 10 percent of marine areas are under protection, the time has come for increased prevalence. About the agreement, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “We are finally beginning to forge a peace agreement with nature.”

The focus will be on preserving and restoring ecosystems, stopping species extinctions, caring for genetic diversity, and ensuring that the benefits of resources from nature are shared fairly. The goals set include the need to halt the extinction of species threatened by human action; ensuring the sustainable use and management of biodiversity; Sharing resource benefits and ensuring adequate funding for conservation programmes.

The meeting approved measures to halt the ongoing loss of terrestrial and marine biodiversity and relevant agreements on their implementation, including planning, monitoring, reporting, review and resource mobilization. It also pledged to help States build their capacity to fulfill their obligations regardless of the sequence of digital information on genetic resources.

As experts continue to deliberate, it is estimated that more than 90 percent of marine species have yet to be described and many may become extinct due to human activity before they are discovered. Knowing the biodiversity of deep-sea species is an obvious first step for the effective protection of both species and their associated ecosystem processes.

Scientists warn that deep-sea species are increasingly exposed to pollution and habitat destruction. Global warming, ocean acidification and resource depletion can lead to dramatic changes in deep sea biodiversity with unpredictable consequences for the planet.

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