GLF recommends seven approaches to safeguard biodiversity

By Laxman Datt Pant

GLF recommends seven approaches to safeguard biodiversity

Reminding the world to invest in preserving biodiversity by re-focusing its subsidies, the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) community, of which the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is a Charter member, released a report, One World, One Health, on January 12 which recommended seven approaches to harness the power of landscapes to safeguard biodiversity and confront the realities of mass extinction that could see up to a million species disappear from the earth in the coming decades.

The first approach outlines the call to include public health perspectives in landscape and ecosystem management and the second recommends the transformation of financial structures for conservation and restoration, especially through the re-targeting of subsidies and the stimulation of youth employment. The third recommendation appeals for the return of ownership of food systems, value-chain decision making, and financing mechanisms to local communities while the fourth targets the development of inclusive knowledge sharing platforms.

The fifth recommendation focuses on the promotion of the application of rights-based approaches in sustainable development, the sixth recommends the scaling up of local initiatives and successes and the seventh approach seeks for the narrative to be given back to the communities that have the most at stake from climate, health and biodiversity crises.

These recommendations are reported to have been issued to prevent crises, including the effects of global environmental changes on zoonotic disease risks, and to understand the links between biodiversity and habitat loss, global pandemics such as COVID-19, and climate change.

These solutions and pathways grew out of the GLF Biodiversity Digital Conference 2020 – One World, One Health – that took place on 28-29 October 2020 reaching out to approximately 35 million people via social media. A session hosted by the ICIMOD during the conference highlighted the links among biodiversity, landscapes, culture, and health in a post-COVID new normal. Speakers from Nepal, Bhutan, China, India, and Pakistan contributed with their insights to address serious questions related to biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH).

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 2012) estimated that it would require between US$150-440 billion annually to achieve its Aichi Targets.
  • Target 11 stated that, by 2020, at least 17% of terrestrial and inland water and 10% of coastal and marine areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services would be conserved through ecologically well-connected systems of protected areas.
  • The strategic goals under the Aichi Targets aimed to address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss and to reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use.
  • They also targeted an improvement to the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species, and genetic diversity and to enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • Now, governments spend upwards of US$500 billion on environmentally harmful subsidies.

These recommendations build on ICIMOD’s session at the GLF Biodiversity Conference and include the HKH Call to Action as part of the recommendations. Since its changes in biodiversity are a barometer of climate change across the world, the session referred to HKH as the pulse of the planet. It is considered a significant global asset, sustaining the lives and livelihoods of approximately 2 billion people.

Considering HKH as a vital regional lifeline, this report concludes that human drivers and climate change pose grave and immediate threats to the region’s biodiversity. Furthermore, it calls upon local, national, regional, and global stakeholders to take urgent action to sustain this global asset, focusing on substantially increased investments and more robust regional cooperation for sustaining mountain environments. It also calls for intensive action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2100.

The recommendations are expected to contribute to the work around the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework which is to be adopted by the United Nations Convention on CBD this year. It is also anticipated that it will contribute to the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030).