May 22nd: the most important International Day for Biological Diversity to date
May 22nd marks the most important International Day for Biological Diversity to date since it was created by the UN General Assembly in 1993 (also known as World Biodiversity day).
The world is at a crucial tipping point as we plunge further into a global biodiversity crisis. Action is needed at an unprecedented scale to reduce biodiversity losses and protect nature around the world.
This year is different due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Normally, the Convention on Biological Diversity summit would take place on the same weekend – this ‘Conference of the Parties’ (CBD COP 15 this year) has been delayed and is now due to take place in October. As a result, we’re not expecting to see any big policy announcements or governmental commitments.
Of course, later in the year at CBD COP 15, we will be keeping a close eye on proceedings. We will be looking for tangible action and policy proposals from world leaders that will help us achieve the UN’s 30 x 2030 goal. That means a meaningful commitment and plan to expand investment in nature and protection of biodiversity, and a commitment to the usage of new technology to assess natural capital. We will also be looking for a clear acknowledgement that the world is lagging far behind where it should be to achieve the UN’s 30 x 2030 goal. The goal is to halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. We are a long way from achieving this. Action, investment, and new laws and regulations must be put in place
To mark this year’s Biodiversity Day, here is what we will be hoping for in the short term.
Firstly, as is the main goal of these ‘United Nations Observances’, we are hoping to see a strong boost in international awareness for the importance of biodiversity. Discussing it, sharing it, and taking part in it does help. The world’s population has come a long way in recent years when it comes to biodiversity awareness, partially thanks to fantastic nature documentaries that have highlighted the crisis visually and from the surge in global publicity earlier this year when the eagerly anticipated Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity was launched.
This has all helped, but there is a long way to go. The average member of the public is still largely unaware of the importance of biodiversity and the wider crisis. We hope governments, NGOs, businesses, educational institutions, and everyday people all embrace this day as a powerful advocacy tool. It’s the perfect opportunity to spark discussions on the topic and ask important questions.
We’re also hoping the day heightens the level of scrutiny on world leaders, especially those that have pledged to combat the crisis and protect the world’s biodiversity. For example, the Biden and Harris administration has pledged to move “further, faster and more aggressively than ever, protecting biodiversity, slowing extinction rates and helping leverage natural climate solutions by conserving 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030.
Indeed this was welcome news as we know the ecological breakdown and natural habitat losses across the US have been disastrous over the past decade, but thankfully bipartisan support to further invest in nature is starting to be seen, not only in the US but globally. Precious forests, wetlands and mangroves must be protected if we are to have a chance at maintaining biodiversity and enabling natural carbon capture.
The commitment to protecting 30 percent of US lands and water by 2030 is an incredible shift in policy and has been heralded as the “largest shift in United States science-based biodiversity conservation policy since the Endangered Species Act of 1973”, according to Scientific American. This move caught our eye as biodiversity protection and regeneration is a key part of Cultivo’s reason to exist.
But with many distractions in the world right now, predominantly the Covid-19 pandemic, we need to keep the pressure on our leaders to ensure they follow through on these commitments. May 22nd is an appropriate time to check on the progress, assess what they’ve done so far and call for further action.
The other sector we will be monitoring will be the financial sector. While CBD COP 15 won’t be until October, that doesn’t mean financial institutions can’t make commitments for biodiversity protection now. Financial institutions are incredibly important as they have the capital available to invest in nature and make an impact. We, Cultivo, are here to enable these investments in nature and ensure they deliver a triple win: ecological, financial and social returns. We use our expertise, technology and business model to connect financial institutions to landowners to develop and run restoration projects that protect and nurture biodiversity.
Together, we can make the impact needed to reverse the crisis and scale up nature-based investments across the world. We are hoping this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity serves as a catalyst for this type of investment. We will continue to do everything we can to be part of solution #ForNature.
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Dr Manuel Piñuela, CEO