News Selection – Biodiversity
Recent news chosen to illustrate and update Tread Softly briefings on Biodiversity.
Negotiations start on a high seas treaty
5/9/2018: Countries are meeting at UN headquarters in New York until 18 September, marking the start of a two-year process to agree a treaty to protect the high seas. Source: China Dialogue Ocean
Tread Softly Comment: This is a particularly useful introduction to the issues that negotiators must resolve if marine biodiversity is to be protected through international collaboration. There is no shortage of areas of disagreement which may prolong the process beyond its scheduled duration. Relevant Briefing: Conservation of Biodiversity
New rules for high seas must include needs of poorest nations
4/9/2018: Negotiations now under way for an international legally binding treaty to protect the high seas should recognise that people living in coastal communities in the least developed countries and small island developing states will be affected. Source: Inter Press Service
Tread Softly Comment: The current void of international regulations on the high seas offers a licence for overfishing by richer countries able to subsidise their fleets. In consequence, coastal communities in poorer countries experience loss of both livelihoods and a vital source of nutrition. This article also calls for equitable access to genetic resources of the oceans. Relevant Briefing: Conservation of Biodiversity
Of rivers, deities, and legal persons – A new approach to managing freshwater resources?
3/9/2018: Today, at least five rivers around the world enjoy some measure of independent legal recognition under national law. This essay assesses the merits and value of such recognition, as well as possible implications. Source: Global Water Forum
Tread Softly Comment: This is the last, and most useful, in a challenging series of articles about recent initiatives to grant legal rights to rivers. Given the observation that all five examples aim to protect the "sustainability of an invaluable freshwater resource", it's odd that not one of the articles alludes to SDG6 which has a target to protect river ecosystems by 2020. Relevant Briefing: Solutions to Biodiversity Loss
Colombia’s new president faces daunting environmental challenges
24/8/2018: Experts highlight the legacy of outgoing President Santos as the expansion of Colombia's protected areas. Issues that await the new administration include high rates of deforestation, particularly in the Amazon, and a reduced environmental sector budget. Source: Mongabay
Tread Softly Comment: A valuable stock-take of a country's environmental issues at the pivotal moment of a change in leadership. It covers key reference points, including progress against the Aichi biodiversity targets, the profile of responsibilities within government ministries, problems with extractive industries over enforcement and corruption, and a plunging budgetary allocation. A reminder of the challenge for new governments to balance the needs of continuity and reform in environmental management. Relevant Briefing: Conservation of Biodiversity
Raising the profile on the largest environmental issue of our time
13/7/2018: An interview with Robert Scholes, ecologist and co-chair of Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service (IPBES) assessment, about land degradation and efforts needed to halt and reverse the catastrophe. Source: IPS News
Tread Softly Comment: In choosing land degradation for its most recent Assessment Report, IPBES has made a significant contribution to greater media attention to that topic. It's telling that a scientific body set up by the Convention on Biological Diversity should promote a subject that sits more naturally under the Convention to Combat Desertification. Scholes laments that the latter "hasn’t gone anywhere at all". If only UN bodies could merge as easily as corporations, the three Rio Conventions (climate, biodiversity, desertification) would have joined up their efforts years ago. Relevant Briefing: Causes of Biodiversity Loss
Scientists call for Paris-style agreement to save life on Earth
28/6/2018: Conservation scientists believe our current mass extinction crisis requires a far more ambitious international agreement on biodiversity, in the style of the Paris Climate Accord. Source: The Guardian
Nature retention, not just protection, crucial to biodiversity
27/6/2018: A team of Australian researchers argue that the scale of the planet's protected areas is an insufficient goal for halting loss of biodiversity. The extent of actual biodiversity within these areas is more important.
Activists blast EU for allowing palm oil in biofuels until 2030
14/6/2018: The European Parliament and EU member states have agreed to phase out palm oil from motor fuels by 2030, much later than the initially proposed deadline of 2021. Activists say that rainforest destruction will continue.
Great green wall brings hope to Sahel
11/6/2018: The idea of a green corridor crossing the dry regions of the African continent has made modest progress to date. Now the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative has been launched by the African Union. with major donor support.
The plastic cycle
5/6/2018: Plastic waste is a major threat to ocean biodiversity, as well as human health. The world lacks technology and capacity to cope with the massive demand for recycling. Sunita Narain concludes that there is no option but to live without plastic.