Scientists and diplomats from 130 countries today opened a global meeting on biodiversity, leaving the message that “the destruction of nature threatens man as much as climate change and deserves attention to avoid devastating impacts.“
The international meeting, under the aegis of the UN, runs until Saturday to adopt the first assessment of the world ecosystem in the last 15 years, in a “dark inventory of nature, vital for humanity.”
“The evidence is indisputable: our destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems has reached levels that threaten the well-being of mankind, at least as much as man-induced climate change,” Robert Watson, chair of the Platform, said at the opening of the session. Intergovernmental Science and Policy on Biodiversity and Ecosystems (IPBES).
The group of experts worked for a three-year report on 1,800 pages that “should become the true scientific reference on biodiversity,” just as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s conclusions are already on the climate.
“The word biodiversity sometimes seems abstract, but it concerns all animal or plant species that live on the planet, including that which poses itself in danger by destroying nature: humanity. And man can not live without that nature, which provides services of incalculable value, from insects pollinators to forests and oceans that absorb CO2, to medicines or drinking water, “said Robert Watson.
The scientist considered that, like the climate, “this month of April 2019 could mark the beginning of a similar shift towards biodiversity and the contributions of nature to people.”
“Many hope that this assessment will be the prelude to the adoption of ambitious targets at the 2020 meeting in China of the Member States of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15),” he said.
Virtually none of the 20 targets previously set for 2020, which aim to live “in harmony with nature” by 2050 will be achieved, according to the draft report obtained by the French news agency AFP, which will be discussed, amended and then approved line by line by the delegates, before its publication, scheduled for May 6.
“Global environmental heritage (…) is being changed at an unprecedented level,” the text warns.
A quarter of the estimated 100,000 species – a small portion of the estimated eight million on Earth – are already threatened with extinction, under pressure from agriculture, fishing, hunting or climate change, he adds.
“A rapid acceleration of the species extinction rate” is expected by scientists, according to the preliminary report, and between 500,000 and one million may be threatened, “many in the coming decades.”
“This report is vital and will remind us all of this surprising truth: Generations today have the responsibility of bequeathing to future generations a planet that is not irreparably damaged by human activities,” said Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s executive director, United Nations that promotes the meeting.
“Science tells us what our knowledge has been reporting for decades: The Earth is dying,” said José Gregorio Mirabal, president of the organization Coordination of Indigenous Organizations in the Amazon Basin.
“We urgently call for an international agreement on nature to restore half of the natural world as soon as possible,” he added, noting that this report for the first time takes into account the priorities of indigenous peoples.
The text clearly links the two main threats of warming and damage to nature, identifying some similar causes, in particular, agricultural practices and deforestation, responsible for about a quarter of CO2 emissions, as well as direct damage to ecosystems.
However, he admits that “given the scale of the reforms to be implemented, which entail a real transformation of lifestyles on an increasingly populous planet, the resistance may be even stronger than that of the fight against climate change.“