The United Nations Secretary General has claimed that humanity has become “a weapon of mass extinction.” Antonio Guterres was speaking at COP15, a UN conference on biodiversity, which is taking place in Montreal.
According to the BBC:
Governments are meeting in Montreal to agree targets to reverse the loss of nature.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said we have a chance to stop the “orgy of destruction” which has put a million species at risk of extinction.
“It’s time to forge a peace pact with nature,” he added.
Biodiversity is the sum of all living things on the planet and the way they are connected in a complex web of life that we rely upon for food, clean air and water.
In Montreal nearly 200 countries will try to agree on a way to put the world on a path to restoring nature by the end of the decade.
The stakes are high with the COP15 UN summit seen as a chance to do for biodiversity what the Paris agreement has done for the fight against climate change.
The two issues are intertwined, with warnings that a failure to secure a good outcome on protecting nature will make it far harder to fight climate change.
“The idea of biodiversity can be quite complicated for people, but it’s basically about nature,” said Dr Abigail Entwistle of conservation charity Fauna and Flora International.
“We’ve not been as good at getting the message across about what’s at stake and how urgent the situation is and we need to have our 1.5 degree moment for biodiversity in the same way we have for climate change.”
Some of the key ambitions of the agreement include:
- Reducing the extinction risk threatening more than one million species
- Protecting 30% of land and sea
- Eliminating billions of dollars of environmentally-damaging government subsidies
- Restoring degraded ecosystems
Several issues threaten to derail the talks including financing of the plans and debate over how to protect the natural world without risking creating “paper parks” or “ghost forests” that are protected only on paper and from which indigenous people and local communities are excluded.