In October last year, leaders of the COP15 met in Kunming, China to discuss some of the key steps and aspects in the ambition to make humanity ‘nature-positive’. The Global Goal for Nature spells out how we need to halt and reverse nature loss measured from a baseline of 2020, through increasing the health, abundance, diversity and resilience of species, populations and ecosystems so that by 2030 nature is visibly and measurably on the path of recovery. By 2050, nature must recover so that thriving ecosystems and nature-based solutions continue to support future generations, the diversity of life and play a critical role in halting runaway climate change.
The 2020 ‘baseline’ was set with biodiversity, the health of ecosystems, animal populations and all other environmental factors were measured up to that point. The coming years, the leaders at the convention plan to progress to a point where these environmental factors are better compared to the baseline’s data. In other words, the convention expects individuals, organisations and governments to exceed compensating their footprints and to contribute to the restoration of nature beyond the footprint. The changes do not happen overnight, so the UN has set out a strategy order to complete the mission. To reach the goals set at the convention that will lead to nature-positive by 2030, 5 action areas were determined to reach the goals:
1. Ecosystem focused actions
2. Species focused actions
3. Productive sectors, markets and financial related actions
4. Other sectoral policies and actions
5. Actions to support and accelerate implementation
1. Ecosystems: preserve and fortify the current health
Ecosystem focused actions are straightforward actions taken to preserve the health of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems and increase the area of ecosystems by 5% by 2030. The aim is to restore and preserve the ecosystems with nature based solutions such as planting trees and kelp or regenerating coral reefs, involving and empowering local communities and indiginous peoples.
2. Species: control and recover populations
More specific targets are set on the specific flora and fauna that make up ecosystems, especially on human’s relations to it by means of sustainable, safe and regulated harvesting, trade and use. These are actions taken to preserve and increase animal populations and biodiversity. Furthermore, the intention is to improve the status of at least 30% of endangered and threatened animal populations and increase the average population abundance by 2030 by 20%. The convention plans on doing this by controlling invasive species and recovering species by reducing human to wildlife disturbances by 50%.
3. Value chains: stop harmful markets and incentivize environmental actors
Increasing the animal populations and restoring ecosystems is not enough to regenerate the planet if we consume more than we have. The convention came up with some solutions to create more stability and sustainability markets around the world. The idea is to take sector specific actions for sectors that have a significant impact on biodiversity by regulating their supply chains. In order to achieve this the financial flows need to be aligned with organisations with sustainability in their values while incentives and subsidies will be stopped for organisations that are harmful to the environment by 2030. By 2030 pollution should be significantly reduced through the elimination of plastic pollution and halving the use of biocides.
4. Policy: embed safety and benefits for all
The benefits of the upcoming healthy nature and ecosystems are to be shared among all people, and any risks to human health are to be reduced. This means that everyone has the right to a clean, stable and healthy climate and access to knowledge and resources for a healthy relation to nature, for example in the regenerative production of food. One specific target is on climate adaptation and mitigation, providing safety measures and risk reductions to ensure the protection against natural disasters.
5. Acceleration: regulatory enablement for implementation
To make sure that all the goals that were set actually get through the framework stage legal action has to be taken for instance to protect the rights of local communities and indigenous people. Next to legal action, financial actions must be made to support the developing countries with the adequate resources to implement the goals. Furthermore, resources are needed to increase relevant capacities, develop scientific and technological innovations and cooperation. The convention came up with a 2 year cycle to review the progress; by 2024 the progress should be reviewed and by 2026 the actions and delivery plans should be increased on national and regional level.
Nature positive for businesses
The Biodiversity Consultancy has developed a strategy for businesses to integrate into their planning for the upcoming years. The strategy is divided into 3 steps to aid the global goal for nature: slow the loss of nature in the value chain, make significant contributions to the restoration of nature and take cooperative action to create coalitions.
Halting the loss of nature is eliminating the problem at its stem. By creating value chains that are degradation-free organisations can impact not only their direct environmental footprints but the indirect associated environmental footprints as well. The positive impact can be achieved by collaborating with the businesses up and down the chain towards the same goal.
Organisations are advised to start building a portfolio in nature and environmental investments that goes beyond their value chain. Businesses need to make significant contributions to the restoration of nature in proportion to their scale of operations.
Finally, with cooperation sectors are able to create specific coalitions. Sectors have specific issues regarding the environment. Take for instance the fishing industry, an unstable climate and decreasing fish populations will be a major issue in the near future for all in the industry. With a broader coalition focused on tackling the sustainability challenges for this specific sector, the issue can be solved.
The convention is now in its second phase and this December, leaders will come together again to further the discussion in Montreal, Canada. The Taskforce on Nature related Financial Disclosure has started developing a framework based on Science Based Targets (SBT). They have finished their second version and are testing it this and next year. But more on this next week. By planning global frameworks like these, the world is taking large steps towards a new future with benefits for current and coming generations.
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