New opportunity emerging five years on from the Paris Climate Agreement
On the 5th anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement, Nature Based Solutions are emerging as essential climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. In 2015, the biodiversity agenda and the climate agenda were seen as two separate tracks. It is now widely believed that protecting ecosystems could provide at least a third of the climate mitigation needed by 2030 under the Paris Climate Agreement. In the wake of Covid 19 and the growing understanding of the interdependence of biodiversity, climate and human health and their compound threat, it has become clear that the natural world should be included in climate solutions, and that global leaders should address all three crises in an integrated manner.
The 2019 IPBES Global Assessment found that the biggest driver behind the global decline in nature is change in land and sea use, proving that conservation of areas rich in biodiversity must be expanded to curb biodiversity loss and reduce species extinction. This conservation also increases resilience to climate change as the forests, mangroves, coral reefs, soils, and oceans that contain the most biodiversity are also carbon sinks. Furthermore, when these areas are disturbed by humans, they could become the future source of animal to human zoonotic disease spread. Currently only 15% of the land and 7% of the oceans are protected. Expanded protection of these ecosystems is a critical foundation for the climate, biodiversity and pandemic prevention.
The science based proposal to protect at least 30% of the planet’s lands and seas by 2030 is now the United Nations’ draft target for area based conservation in the Convention on Biodiversity’s post 2020 global framework. This 30×30 proposal is one of the leading nature based solutions with strong backing globally. Nearly 40 countries from every continent have joined forces to form an interregional group called the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People (HAC) that seeks a global agreement to protect at least 30% of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030. France, the President of Cop21 and the UK, President of COP26 are Co-chairs of the HAC with Costa Rica, working alongside dozens of other countries.
Nature-based solutions currently receive less than 3% of climate finance. France has committed 30% of their climate finance to nature, and the UK has recently stated that they will increase the share of their climate finance directed towards nature.
The Campaign for Nature, issued the following statement:
Enric Sala, Explorer in Residence, National Geographic and the author of the recently published book The Nature of Nature, Why We Need the Wild. @enric_sala
“Five years on from Paris, climate change and biodiversity loss are two sides of the same global crisis. We must address both aggressively, across all sectors, and with the sense of purpose that governments and societies worldwide have shown with our response to Covid 19. We can still restore our life support system and the chances for a prosperous future for humanity if we stay below 1.5° C and rewild our planet. Reducing carbon emissions is essential but not sufficient; protecting and restoring half of the planet – starting with 30% by 2030 – is the other half of the solution. The science and the economics are clear: this transformation is beneficial to us all. Now governments must increase financial commitments to conservation, and businesses must help restore our natural capital instead of depleting it. It is up to us to act as a global community.”
Brian O’Donnell, Director, Campaign for Nature
“The world cannot meet the goals of the Paris agreement without a major effort to conserve nature. The proposal to protect 30% of the planet would have enormous biodiversity and climate benefits. The 30×30 goal is a new and innovative approach to conservation that learns from the lessons of the past and proposes a path forward in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs). Securing land-tenure for Indigenous peoples must be a key component in global strategies to safeguard biodiversity and secure carbon in nature.”
“It is time for nature to have a more prominent role in climate discussions and solutions. Global leaders can no longer deal with the climate and biodiversity crises in isolation if we are to be successful in addressing either of them.”
“Nations across the globe should join France and commit 30% of their climate finance to biodiversity friendly solutions to climate change.”
The coronavirus pandemic has shown us what happens to our communities and economies when we don’t protect nature. Governments are now suddenly faced with the realization that protecting nature is not optional — safeguarding our land and oceans does more than protect at-threat biodiversity, it is also critical to rebuilding economies in a sustainable, healthy way. It has often been considered that the protection of lands and oceans is done at the cost of economic growth from industries like agriculture, fishing, forestry, timber. Recent economic studies have shown that this is not an either or situation. In fact, the economic benefits of protecting at least 30% of the planet outweigh the costs by a factor of 5:1. The nature conservation sector is projected to grow 4-6% a year compared to less than 1% for agriculture, fisheries and forestry after the world recovers from Covid 19.
Conservation of at least 30% of the planet can be a driver of job creation, a critical element of a post covid recovery. In a recent McKinsey study it reported that by protecting 30% of the planet could create up to 650,000 jobs and support about 30 million jobs in ecotourism and sustainable fishing. It has also been found that increasing our protected areas could improve our food security, especially in the oceans where fully protected marine areas can help restore fish populations by over 600 percent. The spillover from these protected areas can also increase the fish catch. It’s clear our economies must change the way they do business. The nature sector offers a new, profitable way forward.
The Campaign for Nature works with scientists, Indigenous Peoples, and a growing coalition of over 100 conservation organizations around the world who are calling on policymakers to commit to clear and ambitious targets to be agreed upon at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, China in 2021 to protect at least 30% of the planet by 2030 and working with Indigenous leaders to ensure full respect for Indigenous rights.