Biodiversity—the variety of all life on Earth—supports the health and wealth of our societies. It is also declining at an alarming rate. But there is still time to reverse this trend. As the UN prepares to convene representatives from governments around the world, we have the opportunity to raise our collective ambitions higher than ever before. By mobilizing actors across all sectors, our new deal for nature can be truly transformative.
We all need nature, but we are exploiting it far more rapidly than it can renew itself—and that loss comes at a price.
The food we eat, the air we breathe, our health, our climate—essentially, everything that makes Earth inhabitable—all depends on the interplay of millions of organisms in diverse ecosystems, which have learned to thrive and interact over billions of years. Biodiversity underpins planetary health and informs everything down to the taste of a grain, the strand of a cloth and a sip of water, supporting our most basic needs. Yet, beyond areas well-stewarded by indigenous communities, nature and wildlife are declining around the world at an unprecedented rate. To reverse this trend, we must find better ways to manage humanity's footprint on land and sea—and new ways to fund this work.
Biodiversity: Nature by Another Name
Nature underpins every aspect of human existence—and it is in crisis
Governments and businesses now have an opportunity to take a critical, collective step to arrest this decline: to agree to protect at least 30 percent of the world on land and sea.
If adopted, this new framework will act as the world’s roadmap for wildlife and habitat conservation, as well as updating countries’ goals for conservation and sustainable use of living resources. The new framework should also better align with the global Sustainable Development Goals, driving home the critical role of nature in human health and well-being.
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To be truly transformational, the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework must involve finance, planning, transportation, energy, and agriculture officials.
Biodiversity advocates must learn an important lesson from climate activists. Global climate action gained momentum only after it became clear that the issue was about more than the environment, and would require a transformation of transport, energy, agriculture, infrastructure, and many industries. The rapid loss of biodiversity that we are witnessing is about much more than nature. The collapse of ecosystems will threaten the wellbeing and livelihoods of everyone on the planet. The CBD (the UN Convention on Biological Diversity) must move beyond traditional notions of “conservation” to engage with all relevant sectors of the economy and civil society. Saving nature is not a task for government alone; it must be a whole-of-society effort.
A Transformative Deal for Nature
A new Global Biodiversity Framework could mark a turning point in how we manage our relationship to nature.
Very little of the planet is truly "untouched." If we are to preserve the diversity of all habitats on Earth, we have to protect and manage lightly or moderately changed areas, as well as pristine landscapes.
New maps help visualize the current state of land on earth and land that is threatened with future development pressures from energy, mining and infrastructure projects around the world. These visuals show that to truly save nature, the moderately modified places—where humans have left a mark but some wild land still exists—are just as critical to conserve as the last remaining pristine areas. Can we balance this growth and meet human needs while still conserving the nature on which all life depends?
How do we balance development and conservation on a finite planet?
We urgently need to reset and reverse the path we're on—but doing so will require broad collaboration and investment. The UN biodiversity summit offers a chance to reset our relationship with nature.
Representatives from the world’s governments will convene for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Kunming, China next year. It’s a pivotal moment for the countries that are party to the CBD to refresh and redouble their shared commitments to nature. These commitments must involve people who have the political and economic clout to drive transformational changes that interweave nature preservation throughout political and economic systems. Here are The Nature Conservancy’s top 10 recommendations to the CBD to create a new deal for nature.
10 Steps to a Transformative Deal for Nature
Ahead of the crucial summit, here are The Nature Conservancy’s top 10 recommendations to the CBD to create a new deal for nature.
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