Draft UN plan sets target to protect 30% of planet by 2030

Source: Greennews.ie

January 16th, 2020

At least 30 per cent
of the planet must be protected in order to tackle the biodiversity crisis in
the coming decade, the United Nations said this week. 

Releasing the
draft
of its potentially landmark proposals to protect global biodiversity
over the coming decades, the UN secretariat for the Convention on Biological
Diversity (CBD) this week outlined 20 proposals to protect the diversity of
plant and animal species by mid-century. 

In addition to calling
for almost a third of all land and water to be granted protected status, the Paris
Agreement-style proposal t also outlines a desire to half the global use of biocide
(chemicals used to control bacteria and other organisms), excessive nutrient
use, and plastic pollution by 2030. 

The framework draft
also proposes that around one-third of climate mitigation efforts to meet the Paris
Agreement targets should be met through nature-based solutions that would
include planting native woodlands and rewetting peatlands in Ireland.

The draft also calls for greater conservation of biodiversity within
agricultural systems, and for greater use of green spaces for health and
well-being, especially in urban areas.

The draft also points to the need for the elimination of subsidies
that are most harmful for biodiversity and to ensure that any public and
private economic and regulatory incentives are either “positive or neutral for
biodiversity” by 2030.

Indigenous
peoples and local communities – in particular women and youth – should be
central  to decision-making on the
conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity by the end of the decade, the
draft also states.

The final plan will be published in October at the 2020 UN Biodiversity Conference in China, the environmental version of the COP climate summits.

Earlier today, the European Parliament voted to call on the European Commission to move away from voluntary biodiversity-protection commitments and to propose an “ambitious and inclusive Biodiversity Strategy for 2030” that sets legally binding targets for the EU and its Member States.

In the Parliament motion on the upcoming biodiversity conference in China, MEPs also voted in favour of an amendment calling for the Commission to support a target to reach at least 30 per cent protected land and marine areas and to restore at least 30 per cent of degraded ecosystems across the bloc by 2030.

All Irish MEPs present voted in favour of an amendement apart from three Fine Gael MEPs – Frances Fitzgerald, Seán Kelly, and Mairead McGuinness – who abstained from the vote. The Green Party’s Grace O’Sullivan, Sinn Fein’s Matt Carthy and Fine Gael’s Maria Walsh were not available today for the vote.

Extinction Rebellion protest in Dublin April 2019 Photo: Niall Sargent

At a ‘tipping point’ 

Both regionally and
globally, biodiversity is facing mounting challenges. Last month, the head of the European Environment Agency (EEA) Hans
Bruyninckx warned that the environment is at a “tipping point” in response to Member
States failure to protect the natural world. 

“We have a narrow
window of opportunity in the next decade to scale up measures to protect
nature, lessen the impacts of climate change and radically reduce our consumption
of natural resources,” Mr Bruynicnkx said. 

The report, released
every five years, indicates that the EU as a regional bloc is set to miss most
of its environmental protection targets in 2020, including in air, water and
soil pollution as well as species and habitats protection. 

The EEA warned that
only two of the 13 specific policy objectives set for 2020 are expected to be
reached in full, which are the designation of protected areas on land and at
sea. 

The UN reported last
May that as many as a million species are at risk of extinction as a result of
the climate crisis. Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Chair Sir Robert Watson warned that
such a scale of loss presents an “ominous picture”. 

“The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever… We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide,” Sir Watson said. 

About the Author

Kayle Crosson

Kayle is a multimedia journalist focused on climate and environmental issues and contributes to The Irish Times and The Green News.

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