The natural world is disappearing at an unprecedented rate. 1 million plant and animal species face extinction. We’ve lost 60% of terrestrial wildlife and 90% of the big ocean fish. We are clear cutting rainforests at a rate of four football fields per minute.
This puts our economies and societies at risk because nature is the cornerstone of our economy, providing roughly $125 trillion a year of “free” support to the global economy. That’s close to twice the global GDP. Extreme weather events, natural disasters, and biodiversity loss now represent the greatest systemic risk for our global economy, threatening our access to clean air and drinking water, our food supply, the prosperity of communities, and our ability to protect ourselves from floods, and catastrophic wildfires.
The destruction of ecosystems also accelerates climate change: in recent years, 15% of annual greenhouse gas emissions came from forest clearing and fires in Indonesia and Brazil alone. Yet, protecting ecosystems could provide at least a third of the climate mitigation needed by 2030 under the Paris Climate Agreement.
However, we are on the cusp of a critical opportunity for coordinated global action to safeguard nature and humanity’s future with the upcoming UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) COP15 in October 2020 in Kunming, China.
Today, only 15% of our lands and 7% of our oceans are protected, but top scientists agree that if the world commits in Kunming to protecting at least 30% of our planet’s land and oceans by 2030 we could avoid disaster.
The good news is that the zero draft of the UN Convention’s Open-Ended Working Group endorses this proposal, and public opinion polls worldwide also show citizens support ambitious protected area targets. Furthermore, given the central role that indigenous people and local communities play in the establishment of protected areas, this area based target should fully integrate and respect
indigenous leadership and rights.