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Building a shared future for all beings

By Nathalia Toledo

In a few months, leaders from around the world will meet to agree on a global biodiversity framework with clear and measurable goals to put the planet on the path to recovery by 2030. And in a few hours, inspiring explorers, biologists, and ecologists will be gathering with an audience who truly believes in the power of science, discovery and storytelling to change the world. I am referring to the fourth edition of the National Geographic Summit, in Lisbon, which this year brings to the forefront initiatives to preserve biodiversity and communities for the future of the planet. I mean, for our future.

While governments are under pressure to play their part in less environmentally aggressive public policies, cutting emissions of greenhouse gases to curb climate change, we, the society, can and must increasingly speak out in what is within our reach – whether through inspiring conferences, public and private debates, business, educational or individual initiatives.  And a good start is to look at the biodiversity around us. How do we relate to it? How do we connect with it?

Biodiversity provides us with food, fuel, medicine, shelter, and a cultural and spiritual connection to nature. “Biodiversity is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, ending the existential threat of climate change, halting land degradation, building food security and supporting advances in human health”, said the United Nations chief on the last Biodiversity Day. António Guterres highlighted that biodiversity itself offers the solutions for green and inclusive growth.

According to the UN, biological diversity resources are the pillars on which we build civilizations: fish, for instance, provide 20% of animal protein to about 3 billion people. Plants provide over 80% of the human diet. And as many as 80% of people living in rural areas in developing countries rely on traditional plant‐based medicines for primary healthcare.

And how have you, from within your home, in your daily commute and everyday habits, been doing your part? As the National Geographic Summit 2022’s motto brings, it is time to recognize the interconnectedness and coexistence of all living things and to act together for a sustainable future. We need to discuss all existing options, learn from those who know our planet best, and think about solutions we cannot yet imagine. Nature is resilient and our greatest ally. 

In the third quarter of 2022, when 196 countries meet at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the outcome framework will include a set of global goals, targets and indicators that will guide conservation efforts for the next 10 years. It is past time for us to get informed, spread information, get more and more people on board, and take action. We must show the representatives how they should stand up for us in this debate, driving concrete nature-positive investments, and building a shared future. For all beings.

To help us, Conservation International has outlined some goals to keep in mind until then. Let’s get to them:

Increase overall ambition

“Creating transformational change will require a greater level of ambition. While targets for biodiversity loss are important, we must also address the underlying economic drivers of this loss. We encourage parties to maintain and strengthen targets that integrate biodiversity values into decision making, supply chain considerations and economic incentives and subsidies.”

Ensure funding and capacity building

“A strong agreement on financing the framework’s goals and targets will be key to determining its success. Overseas development aid will be an important part of any financing agreement, but it will not be enough. Domestic financing will be essential, both through increased investment in biodiversity and through reduced spending on activities that harm biodiversity. We recommend that parties agree to provide sufficient resources to finance the full implementation of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.”

Ensure inclusive participation and a human rights-based approach

“Indigenous Peoples and local communities are central to the success of the development and implementation of the framework. Therefore, the entire framework must ensure the full, effective, and equitable participation of IPLCs in all GBF related processes and adhere to a human rights-based approach that strengthens rights for all. We are calling for the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to adhere to a human rights-based approach that ensures the respect and support of all humanity, including Indigenous peoples and local communities.”