Just returned from the UN Convention on Biodiversity in Montreal, Stop Ecocide International’s Pella Thiel spells out the implications this ‘new treaty for life on Earth’ has for business-as-usual, and how we can contribute to its success.
The situation for biodiversity – essentially life on Earth – is dire on a global scale. At the end of 2022, the UN Convention on biodiversity convened in Montreal for COP15, a meeting leading scientists described as “determining the fate of the living world.” And in the opening speech, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that humanity has become a weapon of mass destruction. It is difficult to overstate the urgency of the situation.
In other words, there was a lot of weight on the shoulders of the negotiators, representing almost all nations. Fortunately, the meetings ended with the adoption of a new global biodiversity framework, similar to the Paris Agreement for climate, which was more ambitious than expected. One of the targets is to protect 30% of land and ocean to 2030. There is also financial and other resources pledged from the rich countries to the poorer countries to support this protection. Rights of local communities and indigenous peoples are taken into account in a strong way. This is reason for celebration.
We don’t need better targets, we need action
However, the Convention on biodiversity is a non-binding treaty, and the previous framework did not meet any of its targets. So what makes us believe that sharpening the targets will solve the ecological crisis? Something else is needed in order to reach the 2030 vision of the Convention: living in harmony with nature.
In preparation for COP15, the Intergovernmental Panel on biodiversity and ecosystem services conducted the most ambitious study on the state of biodiversity done so far. They concluded that nothing less than a transformation of society is required in order to reverse the destruction of nature. And actually, the new framework points towards such a systematic shift. For the first time in an international treaty, rights of nature are mentioned. This concept embodies a re-balancing of interests between humans and nature, challenging the view of nature as a mere resource for humans.
The global biodiversity framework is spelling out a challenge for humanity to change in order to live in harmony with nature. Maintaining and restoring ecosystem health has to be a core priority for the whole of society. This implies a different understanding of ourselves and our relationship to nature. We can all contribute by being mindful in our values and actions. Since we are not separate from nature, but a part of it, a guiding question for all of us can be: What would nature do?
Lead Photo: UN Photo/Evan Schneider