After two weeks of tense negotiations, the world has a deal to protect biodiversity.
Nearly 200 countries reached the historic accord last week at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meetings in Nagoya, Japan. The agreement represents a critical step forward in slowing the global extinction crisis — the worst since dinosaurs roamed the earth 65 million years ago.
It also ensures that developing countries, and the indigenous and traditional peoples who live there, benefit from all of the natural wealth in their forests and oceans.
Among the goals countries have agreed to in Nagoya:
- The protection of 17 percent of the Earth’s land surfaces and 10 percent of marine ecosystems.
At Conservation International (CI), we’d hoped for goals of 25 percent and 15 percent, respectively. We still believe these higher targets are necessary to preserve the world’s full range of ecosystem services — services that feed our families, cure our diseases and stabilize our climate.
But the goals still are a major increase over the 13 percent and 1 percent, respectively, of land and ocean areas that are currently protected. If we pick the right places to protect — the highest-priority areas for biodiversity — new protected areas can go a long way toward sustaining biodiversity.
- A major deal on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS).
ABS is a system for determining who has access to, and who will benefit from, “genetic resources.” (Genetic resources can be defined as any biological material with commercial value — e.g., in products like drugs or cosmetics.)
Thanks to the CBD, developing countries, and their indigenous peoples, will receive compensation for products made with those genetic resources. This was a huge sticking point in negotiations — and has been for nearly 20 years! The agreement, says CI President Russ Mittermeier, “is surely historic.”
At CI, we’re proud of our work at CBD. We had a large team on the ground in Nagoya, and we’re pleased to have contributed to the success of the convention. But really, this isn’t about our work. It’s about all of us.
Without biodiversity, people can’t thrive. Now, the world has made a serious commitment to protecting it. That’s something we all can applaud.
To learn more, read our press release.