There is a global treaty on biodiversity. He needs to stop the extinctions now.
Co-authored by Tanya Sanerib, International Legal Director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
World leaders are negotiating a global agenda for nature conservation to be adopted later this year. They should embrace bold and game-changing goals to protect ecosystems and wildlife to give them and us the best chance of surviving climate and natural crises.
Given recent reports of how ecosystems and wildlife are coming under fire from all sides with habitat destruction, wildlife exploitation, deforestation and climate change – and how we need these ecosystems and wildlife if we are to ensure a livable and sustainable future – we must do everything we can to protect the natural world. And that includes committing, now, to stopping all human-caused extinctions.
If you’ve never heard of the UN Biodiversity Agreement or the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), you’re not alone. While UN climate meetings garner considerable attention, the UN biodiversity accord is relatively neglected – unless it fails.
Signed in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit, the first objective of the convention is “the conservation of biological diversity”, as well as the guarantee of its sustainable use and the fair and equitable sharing of genetic resources. According to the treaty, biodiversity is “the variability of living organisms”: the incredible richness offered to us by our natural world, with its some 8.7 million species. We don’t even know most of these species, yet we are losing them at an unprecedented rate.
Although the treaty is not binding, it nevertheless plays a central role in deciding the fate of our planet and is particularly critical at this time in history.
Every decade, parties to the CBD – that is, every country except the United States and the Vatican – come together to create a framework to guide and galvanize action to implement the treaty over the decades. next 10 years. The framework, more formally known this time as the “post-2020 global biodiversity framework”, centers on the vision of living in harmony with nature by 2050.
The parties were supposed to agree on a framework in 2020. Due to the pandemic, final negotiations will most likely take place this summer. The goals in the framework are meant to help the world achieve the 2050 vision. The targets are the intermediate actions to be taken by 2030 that are meant to help ensure that the goals and the vision are achieved.
It probably made your eyes glaze over. Now try this: how do you explain to the world that by engaging in a suicidal war on nature, we are unraveling the web of life? Currently, there is no “1.5°C or collapse” slogan to preserve biodiversity. In the age of soundbites and tweets, not having a metric to rally around can be deadly, both figuratively and literally.
There is a lot of scientific data on the need for a rallying cry for biodiversity. But the recommendations are, to say the least, irrelevant. They all aim to reduce the risk or rate of extinction, which fails to galvanize action. There’s even an article that suggests rallying around 20 extinctions a year – but that’s unacceptable.
There is a simple call to action in the world of biodiversity that resonates, and it is desperately needed: Stop extinguishing. This means stopping the human-induced species extinctions that are wreaking havoc on our natural world in crisis proportions.
Of course, some extinctions are ingrained and will happen no matter what we do. Other extinctions are natural. But what is happening now is anything but. Often referred to as the Anthropocene or the sixth extinction, the current era is special because humans, not evolutionary factors, are the cause of species loss. It is a major threat to life on Earth, and it must stop.
UN science advisers identified in a 2019 assessment that the world stands to lose a million species, many of them within decades, without a change of business. Other global indices show that 28% of assessed species are currently threatened with extinction and that vertebrate populations worldwide have declined by an average of 68% over the past 40 years. Greedy, profit-driven exploitation drives this loss, increasing base extinction levels by 10 to 10,000 times the background rate.
Unfortunately, the current draft framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity only talks about reduce the rate and risk of species extinction.
For a framework supposed to translate into action… reduce? Really? Certainly not. We must end, stop, stop forever human-caused extinctions. This is our moral imperative, and it means that globally we must agree to do everything in our power not to let a single other species fall into oblivion.
There are less than 10 vaquita porpoises left. Frog populations are plummeting due to disease. Pollinator species are disappearing at an alarming rate. And dozens of species are disappearing every day. The fabric of life is unraveling all around us, but we have the power to put it back together.
It won’t be easy, but well-meaning people have no other choice. Even the latest framework, known as the Aichi Targets, called for preventing the extinction of known threatened species by 2020. Given the state of the world, we cannot backtrack on that commitment now. .
It will be difficult to look the next generation in the eye if we move away from the choice to stop extinctions. So we have a decade to turn the tide and fight tooth and nail against the biodiversity and climate crises or, let’s face it, we’ll be one step closer to transforming Earth into Mars. (No fancy rockets are needed.)
The solution, according to UN science advisers, is transformative change.
One of the keys to transformation is the rallying cry to conserve 30×30 and 50×50 – referring to conserving at least 30% of land, freshwater and ocean areas by 2030 and 50% by 2050. This crucial element is part of the framework project, but addressing habitat loss alone is not enough.
Human exploitation of species is the primary driver of marine species loss and the secondary driver of terrestrial species loss. To address this threat, we must recognize that snatching species from the wild – transporting them and ultimately converting them into commodities, whether alive or dead – helps fuel the extinction crisis. .
So join the fight to end human-induced species extinctions and do it. now – not in a decade. If we roll up our sleeves and do all we can, we could generate the kind of transformative change that experts say we need to survive.
Organizations can join this effort here: StopSpeciesExtinction.org and mark your work to protect biodiversity with: #StopExtinction / #AltoALaExtinción / #ArrêtezL’Extinction.
Individuals can sign the NRDC petition here: