UN meeting prepares to push to save planet’s biodiversity

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GENEVA (AP) — Nearly every country in the world kicked off a UN-backed meeting on Monday aimed at preventing biodiversity loss — seen as key to averting the extinction of many vulnerable species, the emergence of pathogens like the coronavirus and the damage to both the lives and livelihoods of people around the world, indigenous peoples in particular.

The two-week meeting of more than 190 countries on the Convention on Biological Diversity, after a two-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be the last such gathering before a major conference in the coming months at Kunming, China, which will attempt to adopt an international agreement on the protection of biodiversity.

“We have this one goal, which is to bend the curve of biodiversity loss and really build that shared future to live in harmony with nature for the long term,” the convention’s executive secretary told reporters on Monday. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema.

The potential diplomatic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was lurking in the background, which could damage any prospect of global unity on the issue. Russian delegates who had planned to attend had their travel plans canceled due to the closure of much of European airspace to flights from Russia after the invasion, organizers said, expressing the hope that Russian diplomats based in Geneva would participate nonetheless.

An intergovernmental and scientific assessment of the world’s biodiversity three years ago reported nature declining at an unprecedented rate and accelerating species extinction – with up to a million species likely to disappear in the coming decades.

The US-based Campaign for Nature says a major theme in Geneva will be to protect and conserve at least 30% of the world’s land, inland waters and oceans to help stem habitat loss. , the “overexploitation” of nature by people and businesses. , and the emergence of pathogens that thrive on environmental upheavals.

The Convention officials identify five drivers of biodiversity loss: changes in land and sea use; unsustainable exploitation through activities such as agriculture; climate change; Pollution; and the spread of invasive alien species into new habitats. Indirectly, he says, unsustainable production and consumption also play a role.

Mrema said a key issue will be efforts to reallocate and redirect harmful subsidies – to the tune of some $500 billion a year now – and how “those financial flows can shift from negative results for nature to results positive for biodiversity”. A draft proposal for the framework to be adopted in China would seek to require that $700 billion be invested in maintaining or enhancing biodiversity. The issue of reducing plastic pollution is also part of the project, she said.

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