Biodiversity protection gets a political and financial boost

The situation is increasingly worrying with 60% of the world's ecosystems degraded
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The international community joined forces in favour of biodiversity at a summit that focused both on mobilising financial funds and on joint action by governments, businesses and citizens.

The initiative was launched at the fourth edition of the One Planet Summit, which was first held in Paris in 2017 and which, after passing through New York in 2018 and Nairobi in 2019, returned to the French capital, this time making the climate challenges converge with the need to preserve ecosystems.

The meeting, also held telematically due to the pandemic, was hosted by the French President, Emmanuel Macron, and was also sponsored by the United Nations and the World Bank.

"Our reality and that of the planet depend on what we do. (...) We clearly know that all our vulnerabilities are linked," Macron said, calling for "a deep and rapid transformation" of the current development model.

Likewise, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, during his intervention stressed that "Until now we have been destroying our planet. We have abused it as if we had a spare. Our current consumption of resources requires almost two planets, but we only have one. If we were to equate the Earth's history with a calendar year, we would have used a third of its natural resources in the last 0.2 seconds".

Concrete Actions

The seriousness of the situation, with 60% of the world's ecosystems degraded, according to the summit's data, prompted participants to support concrete targets and accelerate projects already underway.

These include the Great African Green Wall, launched in 2007 to create an unbroken band of vegetation and cultivated land from Senegal to Djibouti to slow the advance of the Sahara desert.

This initiative, which plans to restore 100 million hectares, received commitments this Monday worth 11.8 billion euros (14.326 billion dollars) over the next five years, of which 4 billion euros (5 billion dollars) will come from the World Bank.

The summit also officially launched the High Ambition Coalition for People and Nature, promoted by France, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom and supported for the time being by 50 countries, including Spain and Chile, with the aim of ensuring that by 2030 at least 30 % of the land and sea surface is protected.

According to the Costa Rican President, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, only 15% of the total land area and 7% of the marine area is currently protected. "Today, in 2021, is the time to act and commit ourselves to achieving these conservation goals," he added.

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The priorities for action on biodiversity were the protection of terrestrial and marine species, the promotion of agro-ecology, the mobilisation of public and private funding and the protection of tropical forests.

Business Partnership

With this roadmap in mind, a working group on financial information linked to nature was launched by the British government to raise awareness of the impact of economic activity on biodiversity and redirect flows towards activities that produce positive results for the planet.

The collaboration of the business world was also requested by the Prince of Wales in the "Terra Carta" project, which, with the objective among others of reaching 8.1 billion euros (10 billion dollars) by 2022, marks the way for companies to move towards a sustainable future.

France also officially launched the Coalition for the Mediterranean, with a specific action plan to combat marine pollution and protect biodiversity in the Mediterranean, sustainable fisheries and sustainable maritime transport by 2030.

"What has been decided today is an agenda for progress", said Macron at the end of the summit, which was attended by the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and the Fourth Vice-President of the Spanish Government, Teresa Ribera, among others.

This meeting also served to anticipate new initiatives, such as the launch of the international project Prezode, a research alliance dedicated to the prevention of new pandemics arising from animal reservoirs.

"The covid has shown us how interdependent countries are," said Chinese Vice Prime Minister Han Zheng, whose country will host the UN Conference on Biodiversity (COP15) in 2021, when the UN climate change summit (COP26) will also be held in Glasgow.