Protection of 30% of the planet: the ambitious goal of the Biodiversity Summit

The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), i.e. COP15, will be held in Canada between 7 and 19 December. Although the event is less well-known around the world than the climate conference that ended two weeks ago in Egypt, it is gaining more relevance every year for the future of planet Earth.

“When it comes to biodiversity, we are at war with nature. We have to make peace with nature. Because nature is what sustains everything on Earth… the science is unequivocal,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program Keeper.

Biodiversity encompasses the entire variety of life, species, microorganisms and the ecosystems they inhabit, in this sense humans are included as animals.

Therefore, speaking of biological diversity also means reflecting on how to live in balance with our surroundings. Modes of production, mining, agriculture, deforestation, overfishing, growing urban areas, and increasing global population put the greatest pressure on ecosystems. As a result, biodiversity loss has a direct impact on food supplies and access to drinking water.

“Nature conservation has been around for many decades, but the more global view we have now, particularly over the past decade, is that biodiversity is our daily livelihood. And when we talk about biodiversity, we don’t just talk about plants and animals, we also talk about bacteria, about how all microorganisms and how we, as human beings, fit into this whole fabric of life,” explains Aníbal Pauchard, doctor of forest ecology at the University of Montana and director of the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity (IEB-Chile).

Biodiversity in crisis

Globally, biological diversity is under threat. According to the United Nations, biodiversity loss, together with climate change and pollution, are the three major planetary crises today and they are all connected.

“If climate change continues as badly as we do, we will run out of biodiversity. And without biodiversity there is no human well-being. So, this is absolutely connected, this relationship is already clear in various international reports,” says Pauchard.

This year the presidency of the summit is entrusted to China and Canada, an important milestone, because it is the first time that the Asian giant has supervised international negotiations on the environment.

Although China is the country that emits the most greenhouse gases, this is an opportunity to show whether or not there is a real commitment to the protection of biodiversity and its roadmap with ecology.

In this sense, countries have a major challenge at COP15 this year: to define a new global framework for action on biodiversity. In this framework, the goal is to protect 30% of the planet’s area by 2030, i.e. an attempt is made to sign a sort of “Paris Agreement” on biodiversity for this decade.

“It is a fairly ambitious goal, but very important, because protected areas are truly one of the ways to conserve biodiversity. We hope it is well written and achieved, because it is a very beautiful goal, our country is doing well in this goal and I think that achieving this goal is a good goal for all countries of the world, we are in a fight against time”, underlines the director of the IEB.

Furthermore, Pauchard adds that “we must understand that these are objectives, it does not mean that countries must respect them 100%, but that they are like certain standards that are established. We must look very carefully at what will happen in these days, because there are different things that could not be negotiated to the desired level and countries tend to be very careful not to put any constraints on their economic growth, and many of these things sometimes require sacrifices”.

The protection of biodiversity in Chile

The study entitled “A function-based typology for the Earth’s ecosystems” and published in October this year in the scientific journal Naturerevealed that Chile has 88 of the 110 ecosystem types in the world, i.e. 80% of the total.

“Chile has high biodiversity. It has a lot more at stake in terms of natural ecosystems, which are highly threatened. So what is being discussed here is relevant to our entire ecosystem, because our economy is also based on natural resources” Pauchard points out.

In this sense, the director of the IEB recalls that one of the major criticisms is that, after 11 years of elaboration, the Legislature has not yet approved the creation of the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Service (SBAP).

“There has been a lot of discussion about the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Service and it is clearly a fundamental pillar to have at least one reasonable institutional framework open. Right now we have a tremendous vacuum without having that service. There is clearly a vacuum of power that is widely dispersed across different ministries and, therefore, biodiversity belongs to everyone and nobody,” says the Doctor of Forest Ecology.

“Chile is a country that has many challenges, it has made several mistakes in the way we have managed our ecosystem and our nature, but at the same time we still have a large reservoir of biodiversity. So, we are at the point of, or we take adequate decisions or, we simply worsen the crisis we have. The signals are conflicting, we need to get to the most concrete. What laws does this translate into? What regulations? What regulations? How? How can we really reconcile development and nature? This is still complex”, concludes.

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