The ground breaking first global assessment, [https://www.ipbes.net/] of the state of nature and humanity’s place in it, confirms that biodiversity loss continues at an unprecedented rate, undermining nature’s ability to sustain life on Earth. This puts the ecological crisis on a par with climate change.
Nature is essential for food, clean water, energy, medicines, stable climate, air quality, and people’s wellbeing and livelihoods. It should now be clear to all that continued ecosystems degradation will stop us from achieving the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement. It will stop us from reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), like food security, health and jobs and growth.
More than anything, the IPBES report shows the links between our global challenges. Climate change, biodiversity, food security and land degradation are interdependent. The report highlights the absolute need for fast and deep transformational change in the way we consume, produce and trade. We need to break the vicious cycle of continued degradation of ecosystems and replace it by a virtuous cycle of ecosystem restoration and preservation. To achieve this, recognising the value that nature and ecosystems bring to people and the economy is fundamental. This is why, in delivering our commitments under the Nature Action Plan, the European Commission will shortly be adopting new guidance on integrating ecosystem services into decision-making and on green infrastructure. If applied, this will trigger multiple benefits for people’s health and livelihoods. They also have the power to create economic development opportunities, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable social groups. These instruments can in future be further reinforced to provide a more rigorous instrument for making nature part of everyday decision-making and solutions.
At the same time, the latest Eurobarometer survey [http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/survey/getsurveydetail/instruments/special/surveyky/2194]
on Europeans’ attitudes to biodiversity shows that an overwhelming majority of Europeans are deeply concerned about biodiversity loss and recognize its links to climate change. Europeans are unwilling to trade damage or destruction to nature in protected areas for economic development, and support stronger EU action to protect and restore nature.
The biggest perceived threats to biodiversity are pollution, man-made disasters and climate change. Intensive farming, intensive forestry and over-fishing – by far the biggest factors of biodiversity loss, as the IPBES report shows us – are also increasingly recognized as major threats to biodiversity by our citizens.
The findings of the IPBES report and the Eurobarometer give the EU a tremendous responsibility and a clear mandate to act. After today, it will no longer be acceptable for any government in the world to behave as if we are not aware of the extent of the crisis facing the natural world, and to ignore humanity’s role in driving environmental degradation. And it will be impossible to ignore the moral imperative to take action, as demanded by the youth around the world, and also clearly supported by EU citizens.
The Metz Charter on Biodiversity, to be adopted at the G7 meeting today, heeds this call from science and citizens. If we are to avoid catastrophic climate change and an ecological crisis, strong political leadership is needed over the coming decade.
In the run-up to the global biodiversity summit in China in 2020, set to adopt a strong post-2020 global biodiversity framework, we all need to make sure that biodiversity and ecosystems are in the centre stage of our policies.
The Metz Charter, proposed by the French Presidency, will be essential in this. This recognises the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services for our people and economies, and the role of nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation and mitigation. It will galvanise the political commitment to halt biodiversity loss and to secure a strong global deal for nature and people in 2020.
Science has spoken. Our citizens have spoken. We need now to transform this call into action, from the highest political level through to our everyday choices on the ground. There is no time to lose.