The historic global pact to stop biodiversity destruction

What was decided?

The countries spent seven hours arguing over the final text of the deal in a meeting that ended at 3:30 a.m. Monday local time. They eventually agreed on 23 targets, most notably the “30×30” target to protect 30 percent of land, fresh water and oceans by 2030.

Najin, the northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta. She and her daughter Fatu are the only two white people from the north in existence.

Najin, the northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta. She and her daughter Fatu are the only two white people from the north in existence.Credit:Mark Williams

There will also be targets to protect ecosystems such as rainforests and wetlands and to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples.

“It was inspiring to see firsthand how Indigenous knowledge and the ongoing vibrant culture in Montreal has been so prominent through advocacy for Indigenous peoples,” said Melanie Herdman, Executive Chair of Country Needs People, Rarrtjiwuy, following the meeting traveled to Canada.

There was a goal of “sustainable use” of biodiversity to recognize that species and habitats provide services to humanity, such as food and clean water.

Australia, led by Environment Secretary Tanya Plibersek, has been pushing for many of the critical inclusions in the pact – including the 30 per cent conservation target – but has been unable to garner global support for a version of its own domestic zero-extinctions policy announced earlier that year .

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a video address at the opening of the high-level segment of the COP15 biodiversity conference.

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a video address at the opening of the high-level segment of the COP15 biodiversity conference.Credit:The Canadian Press via AP

Instead, the global agreement pact stipulates that the man-made extinction of endangered species should be stopped by 2050.

“That’s a real problem for me — we can’t wait another 28 years to stop extinction because by then we’ll have a very different planet,” Wintle said.

What was missing?

Funding was one of the most contentious issues, with 70 African, South American and Asian countries dropping out of the negotiations at one point.

There was a pledge to flow $30 billion a year from wealthy to poorer countries by 2030, but this was not legally binding and was sparse in detail.

An activist in a logging coupe in the Huon Valley, Tasmania. Australia is still logging native forests, including old growth forests in Tasmania.

An activist in a logging coupe in the Huon Valley, Tasmania. Australia is still logging native forests, including old growth forests in Tasmania. Credit:Jason South

Some African countries complained that the deal had been undemocratically enforced by China, claiming it ignored objections from the DRC.

Unlike similar climate agreements, this biodiversity pact lacks a binding “ratcheting” mechanism that requires governments to step up their policies and targets.

In Australia, scientists estimate that the federal budget would need about $2 billion each year to adequately fund the restoration of the country’s nearly 2,000 threatened species and ecological communities.

Conservation efforts can work: The population of the critically endangered Lord Howe Island wood grouse has more than doubled to about 565 since a rodent control program was implemented on the island in 2019.

Conservation efforts can work: The population of the critically endangered Lord Howe Island wood grouse has more than doubled to about 565 since a rodent control program was implemented on the island in 2019.

And while observers hailed the 30 x 30 target as a positive first step, they were disappointed that Australia failed to bring new funding commitments for the meeting.

Even already protected Australian areas like national parks and indigenous sanctuaries are being overrun by wild foxes, deer, camels, cats and invasive plant species like prawns.

“If we let our planet sink into the depths of the sixth mass extinction, it will take tens of millions of years or more for it to recover,” said Sarah Bekessy, associate professor of sustainability at RMIT.

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https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/the-global-pact-to-save-biodiversity-is-historic-but-here-s-what-it-leaves-out-20221220-p5c7ne.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_environment The historic global pact to stop biodiversity destruction

Brian Lowry

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