Biodiversity underpins sustainable development
15 Oct 2014 by Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
Biodiversity and ecosystems provide the basis for all life on earth. Yet rates of deforestation and the degradation of grasslands, wetlands and other ecosystems remain alarmingly high.
Forests and other ecosystems keep air and drinking water safe. Fertile land provides food and medicine. Marshes and mangroves act as buffers against natural disasters. We depend on nature for survival and it provides a daily lifeline for millions of the world’s poor.
A crucial meeting taking place in the Republic of Korea will look into the future of the wealth of life on earth. Ministers and other representatives from over 190 countries are exploring how best to protect the environment at the 12th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The discussions examine global sustainable development and take stock of progress on conserving, sustaining, and equitably sharing the benefits that biodiversity has to offer.
Countries must recommit to meeting the ‘Aichi Targets’ under the Convention on Biological Diversity. These targets were agreed in 2010, and run until 2020. They urge swift action to halt the loss of biodiversity by addressing the causes of this loss, reducing pressure on biodiversity, and promoting its sustainable use.
The Convention also aims to ensure that biodiversity benefits all, including women, indigenous communities and the poor. This requires greater support for participatory national planning and capacity building for governments, so that they are better equipped to ensure the maintenance of biodiversity. Without rich and diverse ecosystems, development will not be sustainable.
Fortunately, countries around the world are moving towards consensus around a new sustainable development agenda. This means pushing forward with economic and social progress, while also conserving biodiversity and balancing land-use and natural resources to sustain lives and livelihoods.
This new agenda is an invaluable opportunity for the world to unite around a truly transformational set of goals. There are immense opportunities in pursuing sustainable development, and high risks and costs of not doing so. This is true for investment in biodiversity and addressing climate change, where the less we do for longer, the higher the costs are later.
UNDP is playing its part. Our portfolio on biodiversity and ecosystems is the biggest in the UN system. We’ve helped manage more than 500 projects in 146 countries, including working in some 2000 protected areas. We have also promoted adaptation to and mitigation of climate change in more than seventy countries.
The momentum of this conference must be used to ensure that policies, programmes, and funding are put in place to safeguard the world’s ecosystems, species, and genetic diversity.
Investing in and protecting biodiversity is an investment in the future of the one planet we all share.