Helping nature to rejuvenate the planet

For humanity fighting against climate change, December 19, 2022 will be a milestone. On that day, more than 190 countries approved in Montreal a landmark United Nations Biodiversity Agreement that seeks to protect 30% of Earth’s land, oceans, coastal areas and inland waters by 2030. Among a host of other measures, the collective commitment was towards safeguarding biodiversity.

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

With so many nations endorsing it, the Convention on Biological Diversity saw near universal participation, and the convergence of ideas to chart a holistic agenda bodes well for the planet.

The biodiversity framework expects, in the coming years, to prioritize ecologically representative protected areas and recognize indigenous and traditional territories and practices. The meeting also decided to halve global food waste and significantly reduce overconsumption and waste generation.

Funding for change

With a special emphasis on finance, the meeting decided to mobilize at least $200 billion per year by 2030 in national and international biodiversity-related funds 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: “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 greater than the average of the last 10 million years.”

Moving towards more stringent monitoring of commitments, the agreement obliges countries to monitor and report, every five years or less, on a large set of headline and other related indicators of progress against established conservation goals and targets.

safeguard biodiversity

While focused on safeguarding biodiversity, targets were set to protect vital ecosystems, including tropical forests, wetlands, and the rights of indigenous peoples. Although an estimated 17 percent of the world’s land areas and 10 percent of marine areas are under protection, it was time to ramp up the spread. Commenting on the Agreement, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said: “We are finally beginning to forge a peace pact with nature.”

The emphasis will be on maintaining and restoring ecosystems, halting species extinction, caring for genetic diversity, and ensuring that the benefits of nature’s resources are shared fairly. The stated goals include the need to halt the human-induced extinction of threatened species; ensure that biodiversity is used and managed sustainably; share the benefits of resources and ensure that there is adequate funding for conservation programmes.

The meeting approved measures to halt the continued loss of terrestrial and marine biodiversity and agreements related to their implementation, including planning, monitoring, reporting and review, and resource mobilization. He also pledged to help nations build their capacity to meet obligations in addition to digital sequence 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. Knowledge of the biodiversity of deep-sea species is an obvious first step for effective protection of both species and associated ecosystem processes.

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

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