Ireland backs global declaration on halting biodiversity loss

Minister Malcolm Noonan welcomes move that ‘sets political direction’

Crucial issues – like funding conservation in poorer countries and committing to biodiversity-friendly supply chains – have been left to a meeting of the parties to COP15 next year. Photograph: iStock

Crucial issues – like funding conservation in poorer countries and committing to biodiversity-friendly supply chains – have been left to a meeting of the parties to COP15 next year. Photograph: iStock

 

More than 100 countries including Ireland have adopted the Kunming Declaration which calls for “urgent and integrated action” in tackling the world’s biodiversity crisis.

The countries, however, stopped short of committing to specific targets to curb mass extinctions.

Green TD and Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan, who addressed the UN gathering in China virtually on Wednesday, has welcomed the breakthrough. “The time has come for a global shift in the way we see, value and treat nature. The Kunming Declaration sets out the political direction,” he added.

Crucial issues – like funding conservation in poorer countries and committing to biodiversity-friendly supply chains – have been left to a meeting of the parties to COP15 next year. Improving conservation and management of natural areas, such as parks, oceans, forests and wildernesses, is seen as vital to protecting the ecosystems humans depend on for clean air and water and to limiting global warming to internationally agreed targets.

In the previous agreement signed in Aichi, Japan, in 2010, governments around the world agreed on 20 targets to try to slow biodiversity loss and protect habitats by 2020, but none of the targets were met. With plant and animal species loss now at its fastest rate in 10 million years, politicians, scientists and experts meet this week in an attempt to lay the groundwork for a new pact.

China’s environment minister Huang Runqiu told delegates in Kunming the declaration was a document of political will, not a binding international agreement.

Commitment

Mr Noonan, who has responsibility for nature and biodiversity, reaffirmed Ireland’s commitment to an ambitious international effort to protect nature in the coming decade.

“Reversing biodiversity loss is among the greatest challenges of our times. Ireland is committed to working together with its international partners to realise an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework that achieves real transformative change,” he added.

The declaration – “Ecological civilisation: Building a shared future for all life on Earth” – sets out the political commitment to putting nature and biodiversity on a path to recovery. At the heart of efforts to save nature is a UN call for countries to protect and conserve 30 per cent of their territory by 2030, a target known as “30 by 30”, which the conference acknowledged though it was not clear to what extent host China backed it.

Li Shuo, senior climate adviser with Greenpeace, said it remained to be seen whether China has the experience to drive through a new global pact during the second phase of talks next year. “Our global biodiversity crisis is urgent but so far the Convention on Biological Diversity’s progress has been too slow,” he said.

Mr Noonan said Ireland is to ratify and implement the Nagoya Protocol; a key element of a “just transition that ensures fairness and transparency for local and indigenous communities in terms of access to genetic resources and sharing of the benefits arising from their use.

“While there is a clear ecological imperative to the Nagoya Protocol, there is also an ethical and moral imperative,” he said, “Local and indigenous communities safeguard so much valuable knowledge and expertise that must be considered appropriately in our global efforts to address the biodiversity crisis. Often facing existential threats to their way of life and to their homes, these communities nonetheless are standing up for nature.”

“In doing so, they are representing all of us who hope for a better future for the natural world and for the coming generations who rely on us, who must grasp the opportunity to safeguard their place in it,” he underlined. – Additional reporting Reuters