UN unveils draft plan to halt biodiversity loss, but is it enough?

August 31, 2021

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has launched a Global Biodiversity Framework, a draft Paris-style plan to halt biodiversity loss. The plan states that “urgent political action” is needed, with 21 action-orientated targets for 2030, supported by four overarching goals by 2050. These goals include improving the integrity of ecosystems; protecting and enhancing nature’s contribution to people; fairly sharing the benefits of genetic resources; and financing and implementing the framework. While the framework has been welcomed by many, some activists have stated that the draft falls short of actions needed to reverse the decline of nature. In particular, Linda Krueger, the global biodiversity policy lead at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), points out that there must be targets to explicitly tackle the sectors that are driving biodiversity loss through land use change, degradation and habitat loss. Others called out the weak level of ambition, and that there was insufficient detail to understand how the targets can be achieved.

While targets to eliminate plastic pollution and deliver $700 billion in additional financing for nature-based solutions annually sound great, are commitments to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 with a net-positive impact thereafter enough? The Global Biodiversity Framework plays a part in generating momentum around natural capital and increasing scrutiny on governments and businesses to take action. Its supporting targets and KPIs set the stage of what is needed, but without legislation, a consistent managing and monitoring approach, and repercussions for non-compliance, biodiversity becomes another issue that lacks substance and action. But it’s not all doom and gloom – there are increasingly systems, standards and products aimed at helping governments, investors and organisations account for and reduce their impact on nature. In May, a UN-backed module was launched to enable financial institutions to map their exposure to biodiversity risks, improve engagement, and factor nature into spending decisions. While many await the recommendations of the newly launched Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), due by 2023, the British Standards Institution (BSI) has issued its first standard aimed at helping businesses and public sector bodies measure the extent and value of their impacts on nature. The combination of rising stakeholder pressure, expectation to align with global ambition, and increasing availability of tools and resources, puts governments and businesses in a position to end biodiversity loss. But given the devastation that continued biodiversity loss will have on society, we can’t simply “wait and see”. We need accelerated, meaningful action and monitoring now.

Author: Sarah Kehoe