Countries around the globe need to do more to stop the destruction of ecosystems and rescue the planet from human-caused mass extinction. That’s the core message of a major new report written by over 50 researchers from 23 countries.
The report assesses the science underpinning the draft Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, the basis for a new 10-year plan to stem biodiversity loss that will be the focus of discussions at this year’s COP15 Biodiversity Summit in Kunming, China.
The new report concludes that global commitments to protect 30% of land and ocean by 2030 are essential, but insufficient on their own, to address the multiple threats driving species extinction, including pollution, climate change, overharvesting and invasive species.
To address these threats, the authors call for a transformative change in how humanity uses the planet’s resources.
While action at the international level is critical, the authors are clear that many of the day-to-day decisions that affect biodiversity occur at the national level.
Canada can play a critical role in turning the tide on species loss as the home to biodiverse and carbon-rich oceans, forests, wetlands, and grasslands.
We are already providing leadership by investing in the most significant expansion of protected areas on land and ocean in Canadian history and by committing to make Indigenous-led conservation central to this strategy.
But as the report notes, protecting habitat is not enough to address biodiversity loss. We need comprehensive action to halt and reverse the free fall of species across the country.
The challenge is that our current biodiversity laws and policies are ineffective and badly out of date. Canada’s Biodiversity Strategy dates from 1995 and remains largely unimplemented. We have fallen short of achieving most of the Biodiversity Goals and Targets set by the federal government in 2015. Biodiversity data and inventories are fragmented, and biodiversity knowledge is not well-integrated or readily accessible to Canadians.
And much of our data and accounting for nature is just wrong. For example, the government continues to undervalue the climate and ecological importance of ecosystems like primary forests while turning a blind eye to the impacts of industrial logging.
In its 2021 election platform, the Liberal Party promised to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030, and after forming government, it mandated its Ministers to deliver on this goal.
We’ll need a national action plan to make this happen with strong Indigenous engagement and rigorous monitoring and accountability.
From the scientists mobilized by the recent UN report to Indigenous leadership across the country and an impressive array of conservation experts across sectors–Canada has the know-how to take this commitment seriously.
By advancing a domestic action plan to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030, Canada strengthens its position to play a leadership role at COP15. All while helping achieve a 10-year global biodiversity framework to address the threat of mass extinction and putting the world on the path to support the full recovery of nature.
Future generations and our fellow species deserve no less.