17 Jan 2020

Revealed: the proposed global plan for nature that could save the planet

This October, world leaders will meet in China to discuss a new set of biodiversity targets that will decide the fate of nature on this planet. A first draft of the targets was released this week: here's everything you need to know about this critical turning point for conservation.

Little Spiderhunter © Bjorn Olesen
Little Spiderhunter © Bjorn Olesen
By Jessica Law

2020 is a critically important year for nature, climate and people. This October, world leaders will meet to discuss a new set of biodiversity targets that will decide the fate of ecosystems on this planet. In the city of Kunming, China, governments will agree upon the global actions countries need to take by 2030 in order to avert the catastrophic loss of nature we are currently experiencing. The meeting is expected to be as important for the extinction crisis as the 2015 Paris Agreement was for the climate crisis. And since climate and nature are closely linked, goals to protect ecosystems will contribute to keeping the global temperature rise below 1.5 °c.

The ball has already been set rolling. On Monday the 13th of January, the Convention on Biological Diversity released a first draft of a global biodiversity framework outlining the proposed targets to be discussed and adopted by governments. So far, the draft has been cautiously welcomed by both governments and conservationists, with environmental campaigners emphasising that these goals should be a minimum acceptable level to aim for. Here’s everything you need to know about this critical turning point for conservation.

What: The 2020 UN Biodiversity Conference, hosted by the Convention on Biological Diversity

When: October 2020

Where: Kunming, China

Who: The meeting will bring together delegates from almost all world governments, as well as representatives from civil society such as conservation organisations, indigenous peoples and local communities – with a particular emphasis on women and youth groups.

Why: Countries have largely failed to meet the targets for the last decade agreed in Aichi, Japan, in 2010. With the earth potentially facing what many scientists call its sixth mass extinction event, it is essential that the next set of goals must be realistic, effective and easy to measure in order to preserve the natural ecosystems that support all life on earth.

Key highlights of the 2020 UN Biodiversity goals

This month’s first draft of the biodiversity framework outlines 20 action-oriented targets to be hit by 2030. These will contribute to five longer-term goals to be met by 2050 in order to achieve a world where: “biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people.”

One stand-out figure from the draft is that almost a third of the world’s oceans and land should be protected and conserved by 2030, in order to meet the long-term goal of a 20% increase of the integrity of freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems. This will be achieved by focusing on the most important sites for biodiversity – a topic directly relevant to BirdLife’s work. BirdLife plays a key role in identifying the world’s network of Key Biodiversity Areas, which could provide the blueprint for conservation action.

But it’s not just about safeguarding special sites: the draft states that biodiversity values should be integrated into all sectors including business, government and industry. Furthermore, nature-sensitive environmental assessments should be adopted and promoted globally. Also by 2030, all trade in wild species must be legal and sustainable.

None of this can be achieved without involving people. Many of the goals relate to meeting people’s needs through sustainable use of resources, benefit sharing, tackling threats (like reducing pollution from plastic waste and excess nutrients by 50%) and improving quality of life. By protecting nature, the plan aims to enhance nature-based solutions to climate change, provide clean water provision for a vast majority of the population, and ensure equitable participation of indigenous communities, youth and women.

Follow BirdLife’s news in the coming months for more updates on this crucial turning point for biodiversity.

Read the full proposed plan and list of targets here.

Read more about BirdLife’s support for the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, and our positions to date, at www.birdlife.org/post2020