Posted on 11 January 2021
Nature-based Solutions represent up to a third of the mitigation action needed to tackle climate change.
(11 January) – World leaders today highlighted the destruction of nature as increasing the risk of future pandemics at the One Planet Summit for Biodiversity, kick-starting action on biodiversity ahead of critical environment talks later in the year.
Key announcements from the Summit included the UK and French governments agreeing to earmark 30% of their overseas public climate funding for nature-based solutions. Additionally, Norway and Germany announced new financial commitments, and the launch of the first global initiative to help prevent the next pandemic through collaborative research and reducing pressures on biodiversity. More than US$14 billion in current and new funding was also committed for Africa's Great Green Wall.
The Summit’s outcomes provide important global momentum on nature ahead of the adoption of a new global biodiversity agreement in Kunming, China, and critical climate talks in Glasgow, UK, both due to take place later this year. But at the same time, concern is growing that governments are not acting at pace with the widely acknowledged interconnected biodiversity, climate and health crises.
Marco Lambertini, Director-General of WWF-International, said a step change in both ambition and urgency is still needed if we are to secure a sustainable future for both people and the planet.
“Science tells us that our broken relationship with nature is increasing our vulnerability to pandemics, threatening our economies, and undermining our efforts to tackle the climate crisis. Never has the need for urgent action been clearer, but world leaders are yet to demonstrate that they have grasped the scale of the crisis at hand. We urge them to take the necessary steps to deliver a transformative biodiversity agreement in Kunming that secures a nature-positive world this decade while supporting climate action.”
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF International global lead for climate and energy said: "We welcome the announcements made today at the One Planet Summit to allocate at least 30% of overseas public climate funding to nature. Nature-based solutions represent up to a third of the mitigation action needed to tackle climate change while having a key impact on job creation, people’s climate resilience, and the protection of biodiversity.
“These announcements represent a clear signal that countries want to ensure Nature-based Solutions is strongly represented in the 2021 agenda. This must include further quantifying the private and public benefits of Nature-based Solutions; strengthening the connections between climate and nature, for example through enhanced national climate plans; and going beyond to identify Nature-based Solutions contributions to halting desertification.
“We must recognize that current climate finance is wholly insufficient to ensure meeting the goals of the Paris accord. So we urge all countries to announce new and additional public finance commitments for Nature-based Solutions, renewable energy and energy efficiency which do not diminish development investments but rather magnify their synergies. To ensure systemic impact, additional finance could come from redirecting perverse subsidies in fossil fuels and unsustainable agriculture which drive nature-loss and climate change.”
Human activities are currently causing a catastrophic loss of nature. A WWF report published in September revealed that on average vertebrate populations have declined by two-thirds since 1970 - with the factors believed to increase the planet’s vulnerability to pandemics - including land-use change and the use and trade of wildlife - some of the main drivers of the decline.
Gavin Edwards, Global Coordinator, New Deal for Nature and People said the announcement of the first global initiative to help prevent the next pandemic through collaborative research and by reducing pressures on nature was welcome.
“Linking the health of people, animals and our shared environment under a One Health approach can drive governments to take stronger and more urgent action for wildlife, and to tackle the ongoing loss of nature through unsustainable agriculture. While the world is still within the grip of the worst pandemic in a century, never has it been more important that we do everything we can to prevent the next one.”
At the Summit, a High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People was launched at which 50 countries committed to protecting 30% of their lands and water by 2030, and advocating for this goal at a global level. But, in realising this goal, indigenous peoples and local communities’ rights must be respected and secured and that they benefit from these conservation efforts.
It is clear that spatial targets alone will not be sufficient unless all countries raise their ambition and accelerated action to transform the sectors that drive nature loss, most notably the agriculture and land-use sectors, as well as align international finance. So the resolve of governments to remove deforestation from their supply chains, efforts to drive disclosure around nature loss and the finance system, and other initiatives announced at the Summit are also welcome steps.
The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature commits endorsers to reversing nature loss by 2030, and is a powerful tool for galvanising global ambition and action in the run up to Kunming and beyond. The announcement today that 83 world leaders have now endorsed the pledge - up from 65 at launch - is hugely encouraging. Now words must now be translated into action by all endorsers.
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