By Eva Zabey, Executive Director, Business for Nature
Last week something significanthappened.65 leaders – including from Canada,Mexico, Pakistan, the UK and the EU –endorsed a Leaders’ Pledge for Nature – which aims to turn the tide on nature and biodiversity loss and instead place it on a path to recovery by 2030. Since then, the number of supporters stands even higher, with several countries such as Nigeria, the Republic of Congo and Uganda also pledging their support.
The pledge outlines 10 commitments including support for a transformational post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework that will be adopted at the 15th Conference of the Parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) next year.
It’s worth taking a moment to pause and acknowledge the significance of the announcement.This is a strong signal from governments on why we need to place nature at the front and center of decision-making. Not only in order to‘build back better’ but also to tackle the interrelated health, nature, climate and inequality crises.
Are these pledges enough?
If they don’t translate into meaningful action, the answer – unfortunately – is no. As the recent Global Biodiversity Outlook concedes, not a single one of the Aichi Biodiversity Targetsthat were adopted a decade ago by heads of state have been fully met. This is a stark reminder that however well meaning these pledges are, they will not help protect and restore nature and biodiversity unless accompanied by robust, enforceable and legally binding agreements and policies at international, national and local levels.
“We’re committed to protecting 25 per cent of our land and 25 per cent of our oceans by 2025 and hitting 30 per cent for each by 2030 by working with indigenous people who understand how important it is to be good stewards of the land,”Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said recently.
Under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the same countries that have endorsed the Leaders’ Pledge are currently negotiating a Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. This is a new framework that will set the global ambition for nature. Having reviewed the latest draft, it still falls short of the ambition many leaders outlined last week and will not create the right conditions where you could expect to see the reversal of nature loss in this decade.
More positively, the Pledge promises to eliminate environmentally harmful subsidies and provide the right financial incentives to account for the value of nature and biodiversity and to scale up nature-based solutions. Something we have championed through Business for Nature’spolicy recommendations. This is consequential, but now must be included in the next iteration of the Post-2020 framework if it is to become meaningful.
Willingness and cooperation exists
Through working with business, Business for Nature is pushing for governments to increase their ambition levels and recognize that healthy societies, resilient economies and thriving businesses rely on nature. Last week’sLeaders’ Pledge shows the willingness and cooperation that exists to make the transition needed towards a more sustainable, circular economy that respects the limits of the planet.
But we need binding and implementable agreements. This provides certainty to businesses who are already transforming their business models and let’s others know that the needle is turning so they too can consider the actions, commitments and solutions they must take if they’re toremain competitive.
“We need to heighten our sense of responsibility and strengthen the power of action to tackle challenges to the environment,” saidXi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, at the UN Biodiversity Summit on Wednesday.
A spotlight remains
Whilst it’s disappointing some countries have not yet supported the Pledge, it puts an even bigger spotlight on the need to engage governments and encourage greater ambition. Business for Nature works closely with businesses to support their actions and commitments on nature but also by building a rallying cry from business to governments to encourage policymakers to recognize the compellingbusiness case for biodiversity.Last week we announced that more than 560 companies with revenuesof US4tr are urging governments to adopt ambitious policies now to reverse nature loss this decade.
Not too late to turn the tide
It’s hearteningand hopeful to see so many leaders come together and send such a powerful message that ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option. But we cannot be complacent given how our destruction of nature is having such catastrophic impacts in all aspects of our lives.
Nature is at a tipping point, but protecting, even regenerating what we still have is possible, and in some places already happening. By harnessing the political will that exists, we can – we must – create a nature-positive, carbon-neutral and fair world.
Eva Zabey is executive director at the global coalition Business for Nature