By Sharon Atieno

With one million plants and animal species under threat of extinction, the adoption of a new Global Biodiversity Framework to guide worldwide action is essential to prevent further destruction of nature.

This is according to the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres speaking during the opening ceremony of the 15th Conference of Parties (COP 15) on Biodiversity in Canada.

“This Conference is our chance to stop this orgy of destruction. To move from discord to harmony. And to apply the ambition and action the challenge demands,” he said.

“We need nothing less from this meeting than a bold post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.”

During COP10, in 2010, governments agreed to strive for ambitious targets by 2020, including halving natural habitat loss and implementing plans for sustainable consumption and production. Yet none of these targets were achieved.

According to Guterres, the 2022 Framework should beat back the biodiversity apocalypse by urgently tackling its drivers — land and sea-use change, over-exploitation of species, climate change, pollution and invasive non-native species.

It should also address the root causes of this destruction — harmful subsidies, misdirected investment, unsustainable food systems, and wider patterns of consumption and production.

Further, it should support other global agreements aiming at protecting the planet — from the Paris Agreement on climate to agreements on land degradation, forests, oceans, chemicals and pollution- that can bring us closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals whilst having clear targets, benchmarks and accountability.

“Together, let’s adopt and deliver an ambitious framework — a peace pact with nature — and pass on a better, greener, bluer, and more sustainable world to our children,” he said.’

Similarly, Inger Andersen, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director said: “We cannot afford to continue thrashing a path through the fragile web of nature and biodiversity to clear the way for human development.

“Species, ecosystems, and the benefits that they provide, upon which we all depend, are degrading and slowly dying. The loss and degradation of biodiversity come with a cost we measure in not just dollars but in livelihoods, hunger, disease, vulnerability, well-being, and deaths.”

She noted that once adopted, the Global Biodiversity Framework will serve as a plan to conserve, sustainably use and rebuild the web of life.

“The negotiations must succeed here at COP. If the web of life falls, we will fall with it. But if we shore it up and make it stronger, it will carry the full weight of humanity for centuries to come,” Andersen said.

Apart from the Framework, COP 15 which ends on 19th, December, is expected to set clear targets to address overexploitation, pollution, fragmentation, and unsustainable agricultural practices, and a plan that safeguards the rights of indigenous peoples and recognizes their contributions as stewards of nature. It will also advocate for biodiversity financing and alignment of financial flows with nature to drive finances toward sustainable investments and away from environmentally harmful ones.