As the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) rounds off today, about 150 financial institutions, representing over $24 trillion in assets have called on world leaders to adopt an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework 196 countries had gathered from December 7 to 19 in Canada for COP15 to agree on new goals, guide global action through 2030, halt and reverse nature loss. COP15 focuses on the living world through the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), a treaty adopted for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and related issues.
This year’s conference is to adopt a new landmark global biodiversity framework that safeguards nature, the first of its kind since the Aichi Biodiversity Targets were introduced in 2010.
Coordinated by the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), and the Finance for Biodiversity Foundation, it called on governments worldwide to adopt a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework for economic actors, including financial institutions, to take action to halt and reverse nature loss.
Human drivers are causing unprecedented damage to the natural environment, resulting in over one million animal and plant species being threatened with extinction, for the first time in human history. Signatories to the Statement include leading firms from across the investment industry, including: AXA Group, Legal and General Investment Management, Manulife Financial Corporation, Fidelity International, Groupe La Banque Postale, Shinhan Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management, and UBS Bank.
The 2019 report by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES) stresses that biodiversity loss must be halted and reversed by 2030 and brought on a path of recovery by 2050, to ensure future viability of our ecosystems. The step is vital to secure the ongoing security of investments around the globe.
Also, 2020 report from the World Economic Forum indicates that more than half of the world’s total gross domestic product is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its ecosystems. Unprecedented biodiversity loss, on the scale currently faced, would entail significant threat to global growth and financial security.
Investors are calling on governments to adopt measures within the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which would set a clear mandate for the alignment of financial flows with the preservation of global biodiversity, like Article 2.1C did within the Paris Agreement (a legally binding international treaty on climate change).
An ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework should also support the assessment and disclosure of nature-related impacts and dependencies; and provide clear targets and definitions to take action and support the development of a pipeline of nature-positive projects and investments.
The Chief Executive Officer of The Principles for Responsible Investment, David Atkin, said: “Climate change and biodiversity loss are inextricably linked challenges, which present systemic risk for investors. Through this Statement, the investment community itself has demonstrated a commitment to support global efforts to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. It is essential for governments to adopt an enabling global biodiversity framework so that all economic actors may move together on nature.”
Head of UNEP FI, Eric Usher, said: “At COP 15, we have a real chance to heal our broken relationship with planet earth via nature. Nature loss is a systemic issue that takes economy-wide efforts to solve. With this statement, financial institutions have shown leadership in engaging with the biodiversity challenge and committing to nature and climate goals. We are delighted to see momentum building up across the financial community to call for the adoption of an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, and are excited to see more and more leading institutions committing to halt and reverse nature loss.”
MEANWHILE, the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, has called for an end to destruction of nature as Canada pushes proposal to protect 30 per cent of Earth. He lamented that humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction and governments must end the ‘orgy of destruction’.
He said: “We are out of harmony with nature. In fact, we are playing an entirely different song. Around the world, for hundreds of years, we have conducted a cacophony of chaos, played with instruments of destruction. Deforestation and desertification are creating wastelands of once-thriving ecosystems. Our land, water and air are poisoned by chemicals and pesticides, and choked with plastics. The most important lesson we impart to children is to take responsibility for their actions. What example are we setting when we ourselves are failing this basic test?.
The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, urged countries to conserve 30 per cent of Earth for nature in the final agreement. Trudeau said: “We have not chosen that 30 per cent number at random. It is the critical threshold according to the greatest scientists to avoid the risk of extinction and also to ensure our food and economic security. Thirty per cent, that is quite feasible,” he said in a speech that was interrupted by protesters holding up a sign about the murder of Indigenous peoples.
The Executive Director of the United Nations Environmental Programme, Inger Andersen urged world leaders to act decisively and with principle to reverse nature loss and conserve 30 per cent of land.
Countries are negotiating a framework that will cover issues from pollution, pesticides, plastic, soil health, and human-wildlife conflict.
The forum is also expected to come up with a target to restore at least 1billion hectares (2.47 billion acres) of degraded terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems.