Governments must take action and invest in nature to secure the diversity of life on earth and address today’s development challenges – urges IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP11), ongoing in Hyderabad, India.
Biodiversity loss continues and has breached safe planetary boundaries. It’s time for a serious check-up on progress we’ve made to turn the Big Plan into Big Action. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, out of the 63,837 species assessed, 19,817 are threatened with extinction, including 41% of amphibians, 33% of reef building corals, 25% of mammals, 13% of birds, and 30% of conifers.
It is no more about saving Nature for Nature’s sake but saving it for mankind’s sake!
Biological diversity is essential for our existence. The natural infrastructure of forests, rivers and oceans – with their natural riches and innate ability to help us adapt to climate change and minimise its impacts – offers viable solutions to today’s most pressing development challenges, including social and economic ones.
As IUCN notes, investing in natural infrastructure is a cost-effective way to respond to long-term human needs, including poverty reduction, food security, access to water and energy as well as a stable economy and generation of employment.
The signing of the CBD in 1993 was seen as a great victory for the developing countries. The convention gave the legal sovereignty claims to individual governments to own their biodiversity and to regulate and share its benefits with communities. This was a departure from the earlier approach of biodiversity being ‘common heritage of mankind.’ Unfortunately this novel treaty has remained largely in print. In India, the passing of Biological Diversity Act in 2002 and establishing of National Biodiversity Authority has had least impact in checking biodiversity destruction in the country. Blindly aping the western industrialised model of agricultural and livestock development has meant severe damage to India’s biodiversity.
Meanwhile, the Living Planet Report of 2012 which documents the changing state of biodiversity and its implications, states that due to the consistent trend of over consumption by developed and developing nations, the ecological footprint exceeded the earth’s bio-capacity and the area of land and productive oceans actually available to produce renewable resources and absorb CO2 emissions -- by more than 50 percent! Ecological foot print is larger than bio-capacity. We have been dipping into dwindling reserves for some time now.
Hopefully, some action will emerge out of the Hyderabad meet – in the form of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and its 2020 Aichi Targets to save and restore nature.