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Urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development

The vogue of decade long promises to achieve biodiversity targets were first made in the year 2010 in the City Biodiversity Summit held in Japan vide setting Aichi Biodiversity Targets, hoping to reconnect with the nature one more time. Time came to review and amend these promises by nation states and organisations on 30th, September 2020 in New York through the United Nations Biodiversity Summit in the different sessions held within the ambit of the 75th United Nations General Assembly [“UNGA”]. The leaders of the world were virtual this time; courtesy of the COVID-19 and not for the sake of limiting their carbon-footprint.

The Agenda of the Summit this time was ‘Urgent Action on Biodiversity for Sustainable Development’. Not learning from the past, the agenda had still focused on reaching a sustainable environmental position to be reviewed in 2030. And if this was not atrocious enough, the nation states feel that they still have time till 2050 to reach a vision for biodiversity not realising that a single day of misuse of nature and its habitats will take years and years to replenish.

At the advent of the event, top UN official in the likes of the President of the UNGA, Volkan Bozkir, appealed to the participants, accused of ‘waging war on the nature’ to dedicatedly work towards a ‘green recovery’ stating that our future depends on our ability to protect the planet. Almost 13 million hectares of forest area is lost every year resulting in the extinction of a million species yet the needless incentive in the terms of business opportunities up to $10 trillion were highlighted. Focusing on nature-based solutions, Bozkir was keen on reinstating the fact that the nature has all these years acted as the sponge of our black pollution driven foam and it is overflowing now. He urged the states to put in all their efforts now for which they would be remembered 75 years from now. On a personal note, I find it important to mention that the Holocene state of the nature has been already destroyed.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres focused on the conflict of interest humans will find themselves in due to the social and economic depletion of the natural resources. Shifting the focus to the intrusion of humans in the nature, the novel coronavirus was acknowledged as the unprecedented catastrophe, which will seemingly ease out if we don’t change the way of life now. To recover from this virus, we would have to depend on the mother nature only. He also commended the Leader’s Pledge taken by about 70 countries aiming to reverse the hazards of biodiversity loss by the year 2030 by sticking to a 10-point list.

Notable virtual participants in the summit were among others, President of Egypt, Mohammed El-Sisi (the host of the fourteenth Conference of Parties [“CoP”] in Convention on Biodiversity, 2018), and the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping. China was supposed to hold the fifteenth CoP in 2020 but due to their in-house exported virus, the same has been now postponed to 2021. The draft Kunming Agreement is already on the way and seems to follow the lines of the Paris Agreement to protect the biodiversity. It is important to pick the words of China carefully as it is one of the top capitalist nations against the grain by introducing massive infrastructural and developmental activities like its Belt and Road Initiative. President Xi had also recently pledged to make China a carbon-neutral state by the year 2060.

The head of the UN Economic and Social Council, Munir Akram joined the stage expressing concerns over the symbiotic relationship maintained between the nature and humans  but with manmade disasters in the terms of population growth, demand for energy and raw materials has forced the nature to fight back. The growth models have typically focused on economic development discarding the will of the nature.

His Highness, Prince Charles (of Wales), in his speech focused on the introduction of a ‘Marshall Plan’ or a ‘blue-green recovery’. This circle of a plan would have the nature at the centre and measures like carbon pricing, working on nature-based solutions should be the bold steps to look forward to.

The UN Environmental Programme had given the opportunity to outstanding individuals to state their heartiest concerns and impressive solutions by introducing the Young Champion of the Earth.

As on a personal note, it is important that I draw attention towards the double standards or wishful thinking if I may call it, the states rely on. Statements by nations who literally have burning forests are completely void of mentions of the unstoppable and irreparable. Non-inclusion of key states is another reason to worry about if we really are in this together. Another serious yet funny observation would be setting up of unrealistic time-oriented goals. Working towards protecting one’s own habitat or any habitat for that matter shouldn’t be a thing of far in the future. It should have immediate call for action approach. We already are on the verge of witnessing quarrels between member states regarding allocation of resources and let’s not forget the blame game. It will only take a minute for a destructive unhappy state to trigger war and we all will then be reading this through ashes!!   

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Written By:

Mahak Kansara

Mahak Kansara is a graduate from the Institute of Law, Nirma University. Her interest areas including Environmental Law are also concerned with Intellectual Property Law, Artificial Intelligence, and Data Protection and Privacy.

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