Countries around the world are being encouraged to agree to a climate-style agreement to prevent and reverse the loss of nature, which is seen as crucial to human survival.
The call by campaigners comes on the eve of a United Nations summit on global biodiversity to be held in Canada this week, with pressure to ensure legally binding targets. legislation, similar to the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C.
The COP15 conference after recent event COP27 climate conference in Egypt, because although the two issues are closely related, international action to address the collapse of nature falls under a different treaty.
At the negotiating table chaired by China in Montreal – delayed for two years because COVID-19 pandemic – is an agreement to reverse the decline of natural habitats.
The UK and other countries are pushing for goals including protecting 30% of the world’s land and seas by 2030, preventing species extinction, and agreeing on funding to help pay for this. .
However, a series of previous goals set in Japan in 2010 have not been met and so there is also a desire to ensure that any new goals are realized.
Delegates at COP15 will keep in mind the threat to the ecosystems on which economies, livelihoods, food, health and quality of life worldwide depend.
A United Nations-backed study published ahead of the original conference date in 2020 found that as many as one million species are at risk of extinction, many within a few decades.
Scientists warn the natural world is degrading faster than ever because of direct human activity, including deforestation and other habitats for crops and livestock, pollution, and exploitation of animals. Wildlife, invasive species and climate change are on the rise.
Plastic pollution has increased tenfold in the seas since 1980, depleted fertilizers have caused a “dead zone” in the oceans, soils are becoming less productive, and the loss of pollinators causes crops are at risk.
Separately, scientists have warned that increased exploitation of nature and habitats is increasing the risk of diseases, such as coronavirus, spreading from wildlife to humans.
The UK is no exception when it comes to wildlife and habitat loss, described as one of the most naturally depleted countries on earthwith once-common wildlife such as larks and porcupines becoming rare and 97% of wildflower meadows lost.
Other countries have paid the price, with Ghana having to train people to manually pollinate cocoa trees after extensive use of pesticides.
Restoring nature can also help with climate change, such as restoring native forests, supporting wildlife and absorbing carbon emissions.
Similar general benefits are seen with farming in a more nature-friendly way and reproducing species, such as beavers.
Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “We rely on nature for everything – from food production and economic prosperity to climate regulation.
“COP15 comes at a critical time – our future on earth depends on restoring natural habitats to store carbon and help us adapt to climate change.
“World leaders must agree on legally binding goals for nature’s restoration and rapidly develop plans to achieve them.
“Otherwise, we could see the collapse of entire ecosystems and a large number of species go extinct.”
“The stakes are high and time is running out,” said WWF CEO Tanya Steele.
“This summit is an opportunity the world cannot miss to agree a global agreement to reverse natural loss, like the historic Paris climate agreement to limit climate change,” she said. global warming.
“World leaders, including UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, must push ahead with delivering a landmark deal for nature to bring our world back to life.”