COP15 Biodiversity Agreement: By 2030, Achieving 4 overarching global goals with 23 targets?

After two weeks, the UN Biodiversity Conference ended on 19 December. The so-called COP15 (15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity), held under the auspices of the United Nations (UNEP – UN Environmental Program) and chaired by China and hosted by Canada, adopted the “Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework” (GBF – “Global Nature Agreement”), which contains four goals and 23 targets to be achieved by 2030.

Almost 200 countries were involved in the negotiations. The core of the joint final declaration is formed by the 23 nature conservation goals the global community wants to implement by 2030 to halt the dramatic loss of species and ecosystems. In addition to the financing of the measures, the role of indigenous peoples has also been highlighted: The steps should take into account the rights, traditions and knowledge of these peoples.

The agreement was celebrated as a success, but it is also criticised for being too sketchy and too diffident. The agreement has no legal effect, and it is now up to the participating countries to push for its implementation with appropriate means.

Here is a selection of the agreed targets (the complete declaration can be found here) wich shows that the desired success will only be possible with a joint approach by governments, industry and society.

  1. Effective conservation and management of at least 30% of the world’s lands, inland waters, coastal areas and oceans, with emphasis on areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and services. The GBF prioritizes ecologically-representative, well-connected and equitably-governed systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation, recognizing indigenous and traditional territories and practices. Currently 17% and 10% of the world’s terrestrial and marine areas respectively are under protection.
  2. Have restoration completed or underway on at least 30% of degraded terrestrial, inland waters, and coastal and marine ecosystems
  3. Reduce to near zero the loss of areas of high biodiversity importance,including ecosystems of high ecological integrity
  4. Cut global food waste in half and significantly reduce over consumption and waste generation
  5. Reduce by half both excess nutrients and the overall risk posed by pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals
  6. Progressively phase out or reform by 2030 subsidies that harm biodiversity by at least $500 billion per year, while scaling up positive incentives for biodiversity’s conservation and sustainable use
  7. Mobilize by 2030 at least $200 billion per year in domestic and international biodiversity-related funding from all sources – public and private
  8. Raise international financial flows from developed to developing countries,in particular least developed countries, small island developing States, and countries with economies in transition, to at least US$ 20 billion per year by 2025, and to at least US$ 30 billion per year by 2030
  9. Prevent the introduction of priority invasive alien species, and reduce by at least half the introduction and establishment of other known or potentially invasive alien species, and eradicate or control invasive alien species on islands and other priority sites
  10. Require large and transnational companies and financial institutions to monitor, assess, and transparently disclose their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity through their operations, supply and value chains and portfolios.

In the video, David Ainsworth, Information Officer Convention on Biological Diversity, explains the outcome and the context.

World Soil Day 2022

Today is World Soil Day 2022. World Soil Day was proclaimed in August 2002 by the International Soil Science Union (IUSS) at its 17th World Congress in Bangkok. This day of action draws attention to the vital importance of our soils as a natural resource. But why are our soils so crucial for our entire ecosystem? What damage is already occurring, and what are the consequences for the future?

Healthy soils as the basis for a functioning ecosystem

95% of global food production depends on healthy soils. Through the food value chain, we are also directly dependent on healthy soils. Regardless of whether we are talking about plants directly consumed as food or whether the plants grown are animal feed for livestock. The basis for both is healthy soils. If this factor is negatively affected, this also has direct consequences for food and feed production.

What damage from poor soils already exists today?

Soil pollution has a direct or indirect impact on all living organisms.

Soil pollution disturbs the balance of beneficial substances contained in the soil. Unnatural, dense substances accumulate in the soil and change its physical properties. Chemical wastes affect (cultivated) plants and harm their biological characteristics. Heavy metals, gases and other wastes accumulated in the soil deteriorate the development and quality of the plants. These negative changes in the soil spread in chains and are transmitted to plants, animals and humans.

What if we continue to be careless with our soil?

As a result of ever poorer soils, it could become increasingly difficult to feed the growing world population in the future. The efficiency with which we have achieved ever-increasing yields in the past is approaching its zenith. After that, any increase in food production efficiency will become more expensive and uneconomical. As a result, the proportion of the world’s undernourished population could rise again.

Desertification ensures that the dry soils can only absorb a small amount of water. More and more floods and inundations could be the result. Air quality also interacts with soil quality. Poor soils and desertification, for example, ensure less and less biodiversity and plant growth (biomass). Less plant mass also means less storage of pollutants (e.g. CO2). The pollutants in our atmosphere are broken down more poorly.

Day of Blue Skies

Air pollution is not just a local or national problem, but a problem for the entire planet Earth. That is why the United Nations General Assembly has declared 07 September as the International Day for Clean Air and Blue Skies to encourage people worldwide to improve air pollution.

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Earth Overshoot Day

Globalisation and the industrial revolution have brought many positive changes for people. Still, dramatic consequences for our planet. Our environment and many ecosystems are heavily polluted by all kinds of contaminants. People are destroying the earth more and more every day, not thinking at all that this is our only earth.

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Saving energy while protecting the climate?

The times when climate and environmental protection were always clearly on the “good” side are over. In the real-life implementation, alternative energies collide with nature conservation and species protection, as, e.g. in the case of off-shore wind farms. The discussion about “clean” nuclear energy is also difficult. In general, this means that one must take a closer look, weigh up the (long-term) impacts and evaluate the planned measures accordingly in a comprehensive manner. 

There are also side aspects to consider regarding air quality measurement. It is almost a paradox when air quality is measured by driving vehicles through the city. If the car has an electric drive, this has, at best, a NO2-reducing effect. The fine dust pollution from brake and tyre abrasion remains. And the environmental problems associated with the production of the necessary car batteries are widely known. 

A very topical issue at the moment is energy supply and energy consumption. There are also substantial differences in energy consumption of air quality measurements. The containers that operate the public measurements have an annual energy demand of 3,500 kWh to more than 11,000 kWh, depending on the equipment. This means that even the more economical measuring stations consume more than a typical 2-person household.  

With the Hawa Dawa measuring devices, the energy-consuming conditioning of the air before measuring is taken over by a calibration algorithm through the innovative use of artificial intelligence. This means that the annual energy consumption of our measuring devices is at the level of a standard household freezer – i.e. a fraction of the energy that has to be provided for a measuring station. 

Recognising the social/political dimension of climate change: Climate justice and environmental justice

Climate Justice

We have been talking about climate change for a long time. It is the biggest global challenge of the 21st century. Every living thing on earth, from humans to animals, is part of our ecosystem. There is clear evidence that human activities are changing the ecosystem.

This change is global, which means it affects the whole planet. However, its perpetrators are far from evenly distributed across the planet. The USA alone is responsible for more than 25% of global CO2 emissions on our planet. The majority is, therefore, the responsibility of the industrialised countries. The consequences of this, however, are mainly felt by the developing and newly industrialised countries in the south. This is exactly where the value creation of the industrialised countries takes place. Suppose the industrialised nations are responsible for a large part of the pollutants emitted in the past. Should they not also be responsible for eliminating the resulting damage to people and the environment? This is the question addressed by the concept of “climate justice”.

This currently prevailing climate injustice directly results from political events – mostly of rich countries. Our prosperity and wealth were and are largely achieved at the expense of foreign resources, leading to ever more growth and consumption in the industrialised countries. In poorer countries, this, in turn, leads to more dependency. Therefore, there must be an international political dimension to the climate crisis that addresses social injustice AND climate injustice. In the course of this, rich countries must acknowledge their historical guilt and take steps to make amends.

Read more about climate justice in our wiki

Environmental Justice

“Every human being has a fundamental right of hospitality on earth – this is the core of human rights – and one third of the world’s population lives from direct access to nature”, Wolfgang Sachs

The first concept of environmental justice was created in the 1980s in the USA by civil rights groups and was aimed at socially disadvantaged groups. Social and economic equality are essential to environmental justice. In essence, environmental justice is also about issues such as racism and socio-economic injustice.

Unlike climate justice, environmental justice is about the interrelationships between the environment, health and the social situation of the people affected. Even in the industrialised world, the health burden of environmental problems is a serious problem. More and more people suffer from respiratory or skin diseases triggered or promoted by air pollution. In addition, factors such as social background, income and education can increase such exposure. Living conditions and lifestyle play a decisive role—for example, exposure to pollutants due to prevailing traffic conditions in urban areas.

Everyone has a right to clean drinking water, fresh air, etc. Governments should ensure that people get the right to a clean and healthy environment. A healthy environment is important for everyone and helps improve overall health.

However, these socio-economic factors also play a major role worldwide. In many parts of the world, people have no chance to escape these negative influences or are unaware of the exposure. Governments should take action to help people who are severely affected. We can solve this problem with clean air, drinking water, and a safe living environment. We need to create an environment where everyone has the same quality of life to create a healthy living environment.

Read more about environmental justice in our wiki

Climate Justice – a topic no longer to be ignored

One of the most urgent aspects of climate action is environmental justice. At the ChangeNOW event in Paris, an entire session was dedicated to the fact that the people, who have the least impact on climate change, are the ones who are impacted the most – as the moderator, Lovelda Vincenzi, put it. The panel‘s discussion was around that the climate urgency is a global crisis, but its effects are not felt evenly around the world. The least polluting populations are the worst affected by climate change. International changemakers and political leaders must protect the rights of the most vulnerable and ensure the burdens of climate change are shared equally and fairly.

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Tipping Points in Detail | Melting Ice (Ep 3/3)

We see pictures of emaciated polar bears every day and pity their fate – they are a living example of the sad reality in the Arctic. Yes, we pity them, but we often don’t realise that the melting of Arctic ice is just as damaging to us as it is to them.

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Tipping Points in Detail | Ocean Currents (Ep 2/3)

Nature can be imagined like a human body. It is an arbitrarily complex system – everything is interconnected and in constant exchange. If one variable gets out of balance, the whole system can collapse. This is also the case with our oceans, the largest ecosystem covering over 70% of our planet.

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Tipping Points in Detail | Amazon Rainforest (Ep 1/3)

We have already reported on tipping points and their properties in a previous blog post. What they are and what significance they already have for our environment. Since we would like to report in more detail about tipping points, we are dedicating a separate series to this topic – “Tipping Points in Detail”. In the first blog post of the 3-part series, we would like to bring you a little closer to the topic of the Amazon Rainforest. In the second part, we will talk about ocean currents and their importance for the animal and plant world and the effects on us humans. In the third and last part of our series, we will highlight the ice melt at the polar ice caps and some local glaciers.

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