Who Will Fight for Biodiversity?

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    Policy and Advocacy
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BGCI is launching a new blog from Secretary General, Dr. Paul Smith. This is the first of many to come!

It has long been our expectation and hope that 2020 will be the defining year for biodiversity. Leading up to the COP in Kunming in October, BGCI and its partners have been heavily involved in helping to develop a post-2020 biodiversity framework that will be a worthy successor to the current Aichi targets.

The fact is that most of the Aichi targets have not been achieved over the past decade, and we continue to lose biodiversity, destroy habitats and exploit nature to the detriment of virtually every species except our own. Simply creating more targets or a different framework will not change that trend – we need to put nature first. However, this is not happening – quite the reverse.

Over the past decade, we have seen governments, civil society and NGOs adopt other frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals, Nature based Solutions and Forest Landscape Restoration (including the Bonn Challenge under the Climate Change Convention). Unfortunately, this rush to climb aboard a different bus includes the major conservation NGOs. In the biodiversity world this is referred to as ‘mainstreaming’.

The quite reasonable assumption is that we can’t save biodiversity without addressing the needs of people too and, helpfully, these frameworks come with a lot more funding opportunities than just biodiversity. There are two problems with this.

First, none of these frameworks prioritise biodiversity. This is not surprising. The Sustainable Development Goals are focused on human development, so they are primarily about people and they prioritise people. Similarly, Nature-based Solutions are not solutions for biodiversity, they are solutions for people; and Forest Landscape Restoration attempts to balance economic, social, cultural and ecological principles and priorities – note that three out of four of these priorities are about people.

The second problem is that not every human-biodiversity interaction has a win-win option. In fact, most don’t and this means that by continuing to place people first, there is only one loser. Given these clashes between people’s needs and biodiversity’s needs, the inevitable outcome is compromise. However, it is becoming more and more difficult to find the organisations that are negotiating hard for biodiversity.

So my questions to our own conservation NGO community are:

Which is your priority set of goals and targets? The Sustainable Development Goals, Nature-based Solutions, Forest Landscape Restoration, the Climate Change Convention and Bonn Challenge, or the biodiversity framework?

How much funding do you receive and how much do you spend on programmes aligned with these respective frameworks? How often are you fighting for biodiversity and how often do you win?

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