The UN calls for a shift from ‘business as usual’ on its latest report, to change the course of destruction of natural resources and the imminent collapse of biodiversity. With a negative outcome in the ten-year report card, countries and governments around the world have failed to meet the 20 biodiversity goals established in 2010, and it is time to make a real commitment toward change.
The fifth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-5) – the most important publication of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB) – captures the progress that humanity has made toward achieving the 20 global goals of protection and preservation of biodiversity, which had been established in 2010 at the Conference of the Parties (the annual meeting of the countries adhering to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change), with the approval of a world strategic plan lasting ten years.
“Many good things are happening around the world and these should be celebrated and encouraged,” said CBD Executive Secretary, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema. “Nevertheless, the rate of biodiversity loss is unprecedented in human history and pressures are intensifying. As nature degrades new opportunities emerge for the spread to humans and animals of devastating diseases like this year’s coronavirus. The window of time available is short, but the pandemic has also demonstrated that transformative changes are possible when they must be made.”
Despite encouraging progress in some areas, the United Nations laments the lack of accomplishment with respect to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets set in 2010, with only six partially achieved in the past ten years. The UN calls based on a scientific basis for an urgent collective action, which cannot be postponed any longer, proposing eight changes to be implemented immediately to ensure human well-being and the protection of the planet.
These changes emphasize the need to preserve intact ecosystems and wildlife, a transition to sustainable agriculture and food system practices, including fisheries and the protection of oceans and freshwater resources, plus green solutions for infrastructure and other human activities.
“To achieve the goals set in 2010, concrete efforts are needed against land grabbing and the misuse of ecosystem services provided by natural forests, marine, and coastal ecosystems, as well as other areas of great importance that host world biodiversity,” said Edie Mukiibi, vice president of Slow Food International.
Slow Food, since its foundation, has posed the challenge of defending biodiversity as one of the salient points of its strategies to promote sustainable and healthy models of food production, processing, and consumption both for man and for the planet.
“The Civil society has worked widely on creating awareness and sharing knowledge on biodiversity. However, especially in the global South, there are still too many conflicts between the active support of the latter and the aims of agribusiness. I have seen many governments ignore the warnings of scientists, organizations, and environmental activists and lack the political will to make biodiversity conservation a priority.”
The rapid decline of biodiversity and natural resources is intrinsically linked with the massive land grabbing and mass deforestation we continue to witness across the globe, especially in South America, Africa, and South-East Asia, where entire forests are being destroyed to plant soy, corn, sugar cane, and other industrial monocrops, plus to raise animals for export. Practices that contribute in particular to displacing the objectives of protecting biodiversity and fighting climate change:
“Large tracts of forest land, marine ecosystems, marshes and wetlands which also double as key biodiversity hotspots are continuously being appropriated for Monocrop agribusiness enterprises, mining and infrastructure projects. The continuous sale of these areas by governments does not only involve the communities that have lived there for decades, drawing their livelihoods from a harmonious relationship with these delicate ecosystems but irreversibly undermines the efforts of the entire international community.”
The report calls on the precipitous fall of species, from insects and birds to reptiles and mammals, as well as plants. The UN remains us that biodiversity is essential to address climate change, long-term food security, and our own health. Reducing plant biodiversity in forest and biomes, for example, reduces water conservation, animal habitat, and food sovereignty for communities. It also increases the production of greenhouse gases, and it brings us closer to exposing ourselves to the potential of virus spillovers, as we are currently living.
“When we discuss biodiversity, less attention is paid to the variety of edible species and how important they are to the livelihoods and survival of local economies. That’s why they [governments] find it easy to evict communities and destroy the natural ecosystems for “development” projects with direct economic returns and ignore the environmental damage on the planet.”