Article by Jonathan Watts, The Guardian Environment, April 13th, 2018
Call by Cristiana Pașca Palmer comes ahead of a major biodiversity conference in Beijing in 2020.
At least half of the world should be made more nature-friendly by 2050 to ensure the wellbeing of humanity, according to the UN chief leading efforts to create a new global pact on biodiversity.
The call to strengthen the world’s life support system comes ahead of a major conference in Beijing in 2020 that many hope will be the biodiversity equivalent of the Paris climate agreement.
To reach the goal, nature reserves, ocean protected areas, restoration projects and sustainable land use regions should be steadily expanded by 10% every decade, said Cristiana Pașca Palmer, the executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The former Romanian environment minister sketched out the proposal amid growing scientific concern that the loss of plants, animals and pollinating insects now poses as much of a threat to human life as climate change.
“This is mega-urgent,” the UN’s top nature official told the Guardian. “We’re losing species at a rate never seen before. This is eroding the systems that sustain life on earth, including human life. It’s less visible than extreme weather but it’s killing us for sure.”
While the demise of iconic mammals such as the northern white rhinoceros tends to grab hearts and headlines, scientists say the greater threat to humanity comes from the conversion of wild habitats to farmland, the degradation of soil, overconsumption in wealthy nations and the pollution of rivers by industrial effluent, agrichemicals and plastic.