Scientists call for a 'Global Deal for Nature'


Photo by Pandu Ior/Banten, Indonesia

 

Scientists call for a ‘Global Deal for Nature’ to solve two interlinked crises – biodiversity loss and climate change

 

  • A growing number of conservation scientists and environmental leaders now support calls for a Global Deal for Nature (GDN) as a companion to the Paris Climate Agreement to tackle the two major crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.
  • The Global Deal for Nature paper is the first effort to establish conservation targets for the entire planet – across terrestrial, freshwater, and marine realms — achieving a milestone of 30% by 2030, supplemented by new Climate Stabilization Areas (CSAs).
  • Based on this research, a digital petition on globaldealfornature.org was launched by One Earth, an initiative of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, with Avaaz, RESOLVE, National Geographic Society, and civil society groups calling for the protection of half of the Earth to avert ecological disaster.

Nations must commit to protect half of the Earth to avoid massive biodiversity loss and the worst effects of dangerous climate change, according to a new scientific paper entitled “A Global Deal for Nature: Guiding Principles, Milestones, and Targets” published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest scientific society.

Based on the paper, a major petition is being launched by One Earth, a new initiative of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and leading nongovernmental organizations, which asks the public to support the most comprehensive conservation targets yet to halt the destruction of natural habitats and the loss of animal and plant species.

Approximately half of Earth’s terrestrial surface is currently in a natural condition and capable of supporting functioning ecosystems. A new climate model published by Springer Nature in early 2019, Achieving the Paris Climate Agreement Goals (1), shows that we can only meet the target of remaining below 1.5°C in average global temperature rise by ending the conversion of forests and other natural lands by 2030, effectively placing half of the Earth’s lands under permanent protection.

This major conservation effort would need to be coupled with forest restoration and other natural climate solutions to draw down carbon from the atmosphere (aka “negative emissions”) alongside a rapid transition to carbon-free energy, like wind and solar power, by 2050.

The research builds upon the leading conservation priority setting efforts and lays out a time-bound, science-driven plan to save the diversity and abundance of life on Earth by protecting natural ecosystems that play a critical function in storing carbon, producing freshwater, and providing food security – the enabling conditions required for humanity to thrive.

The GDN targets 30% of Earth to be formally protected no later than 2030 under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, with approximately 20% in additional lands designated as Climate Stabilization Areas (CSAs), to help the world stay below the 1.5°C threshold and preserve biodiversity (2).

A landmark paper in 2017 (3) by many of the same scientists originally called for a “Global Deal for Nature,” and this new paper provides the rationale for protecting half the Earth, linked to the UN Climate Convention, and adds an analysis of overlapping conservation recommendations and a clear pathway to achieving the ambitious goal (4) with a strong focus on the rights of indigenous communities to steward their own lands for effective conservation.

The GDN aims to highlight a new era of ambitious conservation in which international institutions, governments and people are working together to save nature —

from supporting communal conservancies in Namibia’s Damaraland refuge for lions and elephants, to indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon that conserve key ecosystems and safe havens for jaguars and rare primates, to the last home of the orangutan in indigenous reserves in Borneo, as well as incentives for governments to legally protect intact boreal forests across Canada, Russia, and northern Europe home to so many breeding songbird populations.

Eric Dinerstein, lead author of “A Global Deal for Nature: Guiding Principles, Milestones, and Targets” and Director of the Biodiversity and Wildlife program at RESOLVE, said:

“Pairing a new ‘Global Deal for Nature’ with the Paris Climate Agreement would give us the best chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change, of conserving threatened species, and of ensuring the health of the ecosystems that are so essential for sustaining life on Earth.”

“Nature provides the ecological building blocks of human civilization – from the mangroves and coral reefs that harbor much of the world’s tropical fisheries, to the trees that purify our air and water, to the insects, birds, and bats that pollinate our crops. Simply put, we need wild nature in every one of the Earth’s 846 terrestrial ecoregions, conserved in protected areas representing the complex web of nature upon which we all depend.”

Karl Burkart, Director of Media, Science and Technology at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, said:

“The math is now clear. We must act with boldness and vision if we are to prevent the worsening impacts of climate change – from sea level rise and extreme flooding to prolonged drought, cataclysmic fire events, and collapsing food systems. Ultimately, we will stay below the 1.5C threshold because we must. And the Global Deal for Nature is a big part of how we do it.”

Thomas Lovejoy, co-author and editor of the book Climate Change and Biodiversity, said:

“The science is telling us that if we go above 1.5˚C we could experience an “extinction tsunami” resulting in the collapse of many key ecosystems. We cannot solve the biodiversity crisis without solving the climate crisis, and we cannot solve the climate crisis without solving the biodiversity crisis. The two are interlinked.”

 

Sign the Global Deal for Nature >

 


About One Earth

Launched in 2017 by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, the One Earth Initiative seeks to create a vision for the world that is possible in 2050 in which humanity and nature can coexist and thrive. This vision is based on three pillars of action – 100% renewable energy, protection and restoration of 50% of the world’s lands and oceans, and a transition to regenerative agriculture. After a two-year collaboration with 17 leading scientists, the One Earth Climate Model was released by the prestigious scientific publisher Springer Nature. The state-of-the-art climate model offers a roadmap for meeting — and surpassing — the targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement, showing that we can solve the global climate crisis with currently available technologies and natural climate solutions.

About RESOLVE

RESOLVE forges sustainable solutions to critical social, health, and environmental challenges by creating innovative partnerships where they are least likely and most needed. Comprised of a team of collaborative leaders, mediators, policy experts, strategists, scientists, and facilitators. RESOLVE brings a unique combination of expertise to their work: mediation and process design; solutions-focused strategies and programs; and a capacity to create and launch self-sustaining social enterprise. As an independent, nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization (NGO), it works across sectors, borders, and political lines to engage with business, government, foundation, NGO, and community leaders.


 

Notes

  1. The One Earth Climate Model 1.5C is the result of a groundbreaking research program carried out by leading climate and energy scientists and funded by LDF to find a way to stay below a global average temperature rise of 1.5˚C. It projects a rapid transition to 100% renewables by 2050 alongside a moratorium on deforestation and land degradation in 2030, protecting all the world’s remaining natural lands.

    ‘One Earth’ climate model (LDF 15C Scenario) from Achieving the Paris Climate Agreement (Teske, ed.) 2019. Land use emissions (gold) decline from current levels to zero in 2035, becoming carbon-negative in 2027. Approximately 400 GtCO2 in negative emissions through land restoration would be required to achieve a >67% chance of staying below 1.5˚C with a >50% chance of 1.4 degrees C by 2100. Carbon budgets are derived from the IPPC special report, “Global Warming of 1.5˚C” (2018), starting in 2018 and adjusted downward to account for total anthropogenic emissions from the pre-industrial era (circa 1750). Model compiled by Malte Meinshausen (MAGICC7.0/CMIP6-compliant).

     

  2. A key milestone is to protect 30% of the terrestrial realm by 2030, but stopping at this milestone would prove inadequate to meet the Paris Accord goals. To this end, the GDN introduces the concept of Climate Stabilization Areas (CSAs). These are areas that are currently intact but largely outside of the traditional protected area system. Resources are needed to secure and manage these lands to store carbon. Supporting the management of these carbon storehouses will also yield tremendous benefits for biodiversity, from large mammals migrating across the tundra to coral reefs and their inhabitants affected by ocean acidification as a result of global warming. The efforts of local human communities and especially indigenous communities will be essential for protecting and managing CSAs. Funds to proactively protect CSAs from catastrophic wildfires, other natural disasters, and industrial resource extraction will be essential.
  3. “An Ecoregion-Based Approach to Protecting Half the Terrestrial Realm” by Dinerstein et al. (2017) provides an updated map of the world’s 846 ecoregions (and http://Ecoregions2017/appspot.com) and assesses the percentage of available land suitable for ecosystem function and land currently protected. It found that in almost 100 ecoregions governments and communities have already set aside more than 50% of land in their ecoregions for nature protection and to conserve vital ecosystem services, and that enough of the terrestrial realm remains intact or semi-intact to reach a goal of protecting half with some areas requiring extensive restoration.
  4. Most critical are the 192 ecoregions that have on average only 4% of area under formal protection and only 1% habitat remaining outside protected areas. It is in these ‘Nature Imperiled’ ecoregions where extinction will be most swift and severe unless we act now. Globally, we need 50%, but to save life on Earth will need representation, distributing that 50% across all ecoregions, based on what is required or possible to conserve, which varies by ecoregion. Some developed ecoregions that are the breadbaskets of agriculture may strive to restore and conserve 10% of habitat; other ecoregions, like in the Amazon, will lose their critical functioning without 80% or more protected.


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