Climate change and its impacts are constantly in the news these days. There is no doubt that we are already seeing unprecedented changes in global climate regimes. Intense and extreme weather events have become the norm, with drastic implications for human lives and property.
A less talked about but nevertheless equally important issue is the extensive decline of biodiversity and natural resources due to unparalleled development. Over-use, and in many cases destruction, of already fragile ecosystems that provide immense economic and social benefits towards human well-being have led to extensive species decline. Habitat loss is the top-most reason, resulting in rapid species extinction and there is no doubt that efforts to protect biodiversity and ecosystems will have to be intensified. Conservation of natural resources is as important as climate change not only because they provide immense economic, social and cultural benefits to humanity but also because ecosystems (such as forests and wetlands) help to regulate climate.
In January 2019, conservation organizations called for 30 percent of the planet to be managed for nature by 2030 — and for half the planet to be protected by 2050. This is part of a process to set new conservation targets by the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and negotiations are meant to take place in October 2020.
And this week, Greenpeace in collaboration with the universities of York and Oxford published a new (and one of the largest of its kind) study mapping out how to protect 30 percent of the world’s oceans by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050. These targets for oceans have been extensively discussed as part of the UN’s negotiations towards a Global Ocean Treaty to protect oceans outside of national borders, covering 230 million km2. This will give marine biodiversity a chance to avoid extinction and provide endangered species with an opportunity to regenerate. And ultimately it will provide economic benefits to us.
These goals are likely to meet with a lot of objections from nations across the board. However, the bottom line is that such ambitious targets do need to be set because efforts made to achieve them are the only way we will be able to halt the global decline of our natural capital. We need to do this for the human species to survive.