Thursday June 23, 2022

An ambitious UN target for 2030

An ambitious UN target for 2030

Rich countries are expected to contribute $60 billion every year of the $700 billion needed to achieve the target of “30 by 30”.

Surprisingly, more than 90 countries, including the United States — which has always been resistant to environmental issues — agreed to the United Nations goal of preserving 30 per cent of land and 30 per cent of sea for preservation of biodiversity by 2030, and this has been termed “30 by 30”. Chinese Environment Minister Huang Rinqiu, who is the president of the UN Biodiversity Summit, now to be held in Montreal in Canada this December after it has been postponed several times due to China’s zero-Covid policy at Kunming in China, said, “We have every reason to be fully confident that the global biodiversity framework will be adopted.” A previous biodiversity UN plan had expired in 2020, and most of the targets remained unmet. Only 17 per cent of land and seven per cent of sea had been earmarked for preserving biodiversity. It will then be a big jump to meet the “30 by 30” target in the remaining eight years of this decade. But there is a sense of determination among the negotiators. The draft text being discussed at Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, is still riddled with too many square brackets — signifying disagreements — must be finalised in the run up to the UN Biodiversity Summit or ‘COP-15’ to be held in Montreal in Canada this December. The summit was to have been held in Kunming in China but was postponed because of China’s strict “zero-Covid” policy. The United Nations Environment Prgramme (UNEP) executive director Inger Andersen said during the plenary session of the preparatory meeting n Tuesday, “Here today and these days, it is imperative that you make significant progress to ensure success at COP-15 and thereafter. Without numbers, the framework will remain aspirational and will be set up to fail.”

It is also an ambitious task in terms of the funding it requires. Environmental groups and their coalitions, including International Union for Conservation of Nature and the World Wildlife Fund are asking the rich countries to contribute $60 billion every year of the $700 billion needed to achieve the target of “30by 30”. According to Brian O’Donnell, director of Campaign for Nature, a non-profit organisation, “Much of the global loss of biodiversity is driven by high levels of consumption in wealthy nations.” It is also being estimated that another $500 billion could be mopped up by slashing subsidies for fossil fuels and agriculture. This could prove to be a difficult task. Though subsidies for fossil fuels could be rationalised with the emergence of electric vehicles, the subsidies for agriculture could prove to be much more difficult to reduce. There is demand for increase in agricultural production because of the increase in global population and the increase in the number of the poor and hungry.

There is the dire warning from the experts about the rapid rate at which species — both plant and animal — are dying out is catastrophic, a phenomenon not seen in 10 million years. The experts warn that there have been five mass extinctions in earth’s earlier history, and we could be heading for the sixth if precautionary steps are not taken. While advocacy groups are mounting pressure on governments, it may be necessary for people at large to contribute each in their own way to the preservation of the habitat. Even as urban spaces are expanding and villages are turning into mini-urban places with similar consumption patterns, it would need every city and every village to do its bit in preserving green spaces and leave enough room for plants, animals, and birds. While national plans are necessary and good, it is what is done at the level of cities and villages that could make the real difference to preserving biodiversity.


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