It is time to combat the loss of biodiversity

It is time to combat the loss of biodiversity

The framework for action on biodiversity loss refers to the need to address the underlying causes, but must be more ambitious in addressing the conflicts of interest of large companies, guaranteeing rights for indigenous peoples and local communities and include equity measures globally.

It's time to fight biodiversity loss: but the UN's draft Post-2020 Framework lacks ambition

2020 is heralded as the “super year” for biodiversity: an opportunity to address the dire state of the natural world, following urgent calls from the scientific community and civil society. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) recently released a Preliminary Draft of the plan - the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework - in preparation for the grand global summit to be held in October. The Draft will lay the foundation for discussions on the global action that is needed to address biodiversity loss for decades to come.

Friends of the Earth International's initial analysis is that the Draft makes encouraging progress toward a system that addresses the structural causes of biodiversity loss. However, it lacks critical aspects to achieve this change, including recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities and mechanisms of equity, justice and mitigation of impacts for vulnerable countries of the South. Frustratingly, it also continues to promote false solutions that put a price on nature, such as offsetting biodiversity and cooperation with the private sector, which risk a similar level of interference from big business as seen in the climate summit of the UNFCCC and other multilateral governance spaces.

To avoid the collapse of the ecosystem, we need an agreement that ensures that the world begins to live within planetary limits and reduces inequality. While the Draft takes timid steps when it comes to addressing the economic sectors that are driving biodiversity loss, much more needs to be done. We must stand up to the interests of big business and set clear limits on their destructive activities”.

- Nele Mariën, Forest and Biodiversity coordinator,
Friends of the Earth International

Without having met the Aichi targets for the protection of biodiversity, established by the CBD in 2010, countries will meet in Kunming, China, in October this year to participate in the 15th Conference of the Parties (CBD COP15) . This "Paris Summit for Biodiversity" is expected to establish an unprecedented global convention to tackle the biodiversity crisis. Scientific analyzes presented in May 2019 by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biological Diversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) highlight that an urgent “transformative change” is needed to avoid collapse.

The Draft includes important improvements over the previous goals. It includes a “whole of government approach” whereby all relevant government ministries must regulate the economic sectors that have an impact on biodiversity. These sectors include agriculture and fishing, forestry, energy, mining, infrastructure, and tourism. It refers to the importance of transforming the most perverse incentives and subsidies that damage ecosystems and aspires to reform the sectors mentioned above by channeling them towards sustainable practices along national and transnational supply chains.

The repeated inclusion of indigenous peoples, local communities, women, youth and civil society in the implementation processes gives us hope.

However, the draft is missing several essential elements, raising questions of its scope to achieve the transformative change we so urgently need. There is a risk that, like the speeches of prominent figures and contributions from many countries, the Draft simply includes empty words, with no real action.

The destructive activities of large companies

Despite measures to address some of the negative impacts that the industry has on biodiversity, the Draft alarmingly avoids mentioning the over-exploitation of resources, which represents a step back from the Aichi targets. What's worse, there is even a call for increased production. It does not recognize the negative impacts of monocultures of agrocommodities and pesticides, nor does it demand that it divest from destructive projects. The CBD must prohibit dangerously destructive and extractive activities, such as top clearance mining and deep sea mining, Arctic drilling, infrastructure works, among others, if we want to stay within planetary limits.

Companies are skewed in their interests to avoid strict regulations and any attempts to curtail their profit-driven activities. As long as they continue to occupy a place at the negotiating table, no action will be taken to live within planetary limits. However, rather than aspiring to reduce conflicts of interest for large companies - a contentious issue in the CBD - the Draft repeatedly promotes closer collaboration with the private sector and claims that increased production will be necessary.

Rights, justice and equity

The fact that it does not recognize at all the impact that the consumption of the North has on the countries of the Global South is disappointing. The Draft does not acknowledge the historical and current impacts of resource exploitation and the implications this has for the distribution of resources today. References to justice, equity and poverty reduction are lacking, in addition to the obligation of rich countries to provide resources to support the just transition in the Global South.

The rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, who have a fundamental role in the defense of ecosystems worldwide, are not sufficiently addressed. Recent calls for a “rights-based approach” are discussed in the introduction to the Draft, but this approach is absent from the decision text. Human rights are not mentioned, nor are defenders of the environment and territories, or defense against ecocides.

Areas conserved by indigenous peoples and local communities have been shown to be in better condition than other types of protected areas. However, this Draft makes no reference to the role these peoples play in conservation, or the basic rights they need to do so. On the contrary, the call in favor of "lands subject to strict protection" makes us fear a new wave of evictions and exclusion from their natural territories for communities that depend on biodiversity, with negative consequences for livelihoods, human rights and nature”.

- Rita Uwaka, Environmental Rights Action
Friends of the Earth Nigeria

Solutions and conservation

As expected, the Draft pays close attention to conservation. However, conservation is discussed in terms of numbers: how many species are preserved, the size of the protected area, etc., rather than taking into account the functionality and variety of ecosystems, and the need for a holistic view of the biosphere. Nor does it recognize the critical role of indigenous peoples and local communities in functioning ecosystems.

We know from experience that solutions like agroecology and community forest management or Indigenous Community Conservation Areas (ICCAs) really work to protect forests and biodiversity. However, these solutions are completely absent from the Draft, which instead repeatedly mentions the financialization of nature through false solutions such as compensation schemes, "nature-based solutions" and "zero net loss." . The only thing is that it does not propose a grand scheme based on compensation or financialization mechanisms, as has happened in the UNFCCC.

National plans and goals

While it is clear to all that we must begin to live within planetary limits, it is not well known how this will be achieved through national goals. Goal setting and monitoring plans seem very similar to the voluntary and “ratchet” targeting system that is so ineffective at UN summits on climate, human rights and other venues. There are no compliance mechanisms to ensure that countries meet their voluntary commitments, despite the emphasis placed on the importance of monitoring and review.

2020 is a great time for climate and biodiversity. It is time to stop talking in terms of the various biodiversity, climate, food, inequality crises, and instead address them as an interconnected crisis, through a total system change.

This Zero Draft takes timid steps in the right direction, but lacks the ambition and details to bring about change. The next editions should address the conflict of interest of large transnational companies and guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, tackle ecocide and include a global equity framework.

The Biodiversity Summit in Kunming is a unique opportunity to define a political framework that returns the world to planetary limits, advances environmental, social, economic and gender justice and prevents the collapse of the ecosystem. To achieve this, we need nothing less than a system change. We must tackle the underlying causes of biodiversity loss: the concentration of wealth and power and the architecture of impunity that benefits transnational corporations. The CBD must establish strict regulations to stop the activities of big companies that destroy biodiversity, while realizing the rights of indigenous peoples, peasants and local communities to collectively manage their territories. For this to happen, the biased interests of large companies must be kept out of the negotiation process.”.

- Karin Nansen, President
Friends of the Earth International

Source: Friends of the Earth

Video: Extinction and Biodiversity Loss with Dr. Richard Oppenlander (October 2020).