The UN has drafted a Paris-style agreement that focuses on curbing biodiversity loss by eliminating plastic pollution, reducing pesticide use by two-thirds, halving the rate of invasive species introduction, and eliminating £360bn of harmful environmental government subsidies a year.
The aforementioned goals were proposed by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) with the goal of halting and reversing ecological destruction and provide a third of climate crisis mitigation through nature by the end of 2030.
Basile van Havre, co-chair of the CBD, said the goals were based on the latest science. He added that, if adopted, it could represent a significant shift in global agriculture.
“Change is coming [in food production]. There will be a lot more of us in 10 years and they will need to be fed so it’s not about decreasing the level of activity. It’s about increasing the output and doing better for nature. Cutting nutrient runoff in half, reducing pesticide use by two-thirds, and eliminating plastic discharge: those are big. I’m sure they’re going to raise some eyebrows as they present significant change, particularly in agriculture.”
Scientists have warned that overconsumption of resources and overpopulation, or humankind, is causing the sixth mass extinction in the planet’s history. According to the UN’s assessment, one million species are at risk of extinction largely due to human activities.
Professor Sir Robert Watson, who has previously led the UN’s scientific organizations for climate and biodiversity, welcomed the UN CBD draft, but cautioned that some were unrealistic and difficult to measure, noting “Governments have failed to fully meet targets to stem the destruction of nature for consecutive decades, including the aims for the 2010s, which are known as the Aichi targets. The paper recognizes and addresses all of the key issues, as did the 20 Aichi targets. The question is whether governments can set appropriate national targets and regulatory and legislative frameworks to enable the other actors, especially the private sector and financial institutions, to play their part.”
The latest draft of the agreement will be inspected closely by governments before a key summit in Kunming, China in 2022, where the final text will be negotiated. If, and once, agreed on, the final accord will be adopted by the 196 parties to the CBD.
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the CBD, said: “Urgent policy action globally, regionally and nationally is required to transform economic, social and financial models so that the trends that have exacerbated biodiversity loss will stabilize by 2030 and allow for the recovery of natural ecosystems in the following 20 years, with net improvements by 2050.”