Transformative Solutions to Protect the Planet's Biodiversity

To meet the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity, researchers have proposed five strategies for protecting the global ecosystem.

Responding to calls to rethink the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the world’s blueprint for the next decade of biodiversity conservation and management, researchers at the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences (KIB/CAS) and China Programme of World Agroforestry (ICRAF)  have published a new paper describing five transformative changes to stabilize and then reverse critical biodiversity losses. They advocate for inclusion of these five steps in plans developed at the upcoming Fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the CBD to be held in Kunming, China in 2021.

The paper, published in Bioscience under the title, “Five steps to inject transformative change into the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework” posits a radical new path forward for reversing the accelerating loss of biodiversity and strengthening our capacity to protect nature.

The failure of signatory parties to the CBD to meet targets has severely arrested progress on biodiversity, argue the researchers, R. Edward Grumbine and XU Jianchu.

“Traditional modes of thinking about biodiversity cannot extricate us from our planetary bind,”said Grumbine, lead author of the paper. “Injecting transformative changes into the new global biodiversity framework will allow us to move away from seeing biodiversity protection as for nature and against people. Instead, we need to support the common good in which conservation, development, justice and equity are interwoven.”

Their proposed changes explicitly target social and financial systems with the twin goals of stabilizing biodiversity losses by 2030 and supporting recovery by 2050. To meet the enormity of the challenge, conservation scientists and practitioners are urged to embrace social change outside their traditional fields of expertise.

“Transdisciplinary teams must include experts from biophysical, social and political disciplines as well as include representatives from multidevelopment banks, private enterprises and Indigenous peoples,” said XU, second author of the article, a professor at the KIB.

The authors expect that the five transformative steps will be a focus of discussions at the CBD meeting in Kunming 2021.

1.       Prioritize biodiversity work that can strengthen societal transitions.

This means supporting innovations that link people with nature, working across research fields to stimulate the creation of new knowledge and setting priorities for projects to discover what works best.

2.       Address climate change across all biodiversity goals.

This means focusing on agriculture to make food production and consumption more sustainable and creating national dietary guidelines that encourage people to eat in an environmentally conscious fashion.

3.       Integrate land and sea protection to embrace both ‘protected’ areas and surrounding ‘unprotected’ lands.

This means linking legally protected areas with surrounding lands to build conservation networks that can sustain people and nature in connected landscapes.

4.       Incorporate biodiversity into mainstream environmental planning.

This means implementing eco-friendly laws and regulations, sharpening national biodiversity strategies and using these tools to plan new infrastructure projects.

5.       Increase funding to pay for all these steps.

This means funding increasing to levels 6–7 times greater than the present, removing negative subsidies detrimental to nature and building public–private partnerships to generate funds.


                                                                                                                                        Photo by HUAI Biaoyun


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