News Selection – Biodiversity
Recent news chosen to illustrate and update Tread Softly briefings on Biodiversity.
A new 'forever fund' for food security
16/10/2018: An endowment of the Crop Trust will secure the future of the largest rice collection in the world, 136,000 varieties stored in the Philippines. One purpose is to develop improved rice varieties that can withstand impacts of climate change. Source: Devex
Huge reduction in meat-eating ‘essential’ to avoid climate breakdown
10/10/2018: The current trajectory of food production could smash critical environmental limits, according to new research. In western countries, beef consumption needs to fall by 90% and be replaced by five times more beans and pulses. Source: The Guardian
Agreement bans commercial fishing across much of the Arctic, for now
4/10/2018: Under a new agreement signed by nine nations and the European Union, commercial fishing will be banned across a large chunk of the Central Arctic Ocean as a precautionary measure for at least 16 years.
A global ban on fishing on the high seas? The time is now
27/9/2018: An influential marine biologist argues that ending fishing on the high seas would allow fish stocks to rebuild whilst giving many less-developed coastal nations a fair share of fisheries resources. Source: E360
Tread Softly Comment: A refreshingly radical proposal which marries concerns about loss of global marine biodiversity with the loss of local livelihoods and food security in coastal regions of low income countries. Relevant Briefing: Causes of Biodiversity Loss
Scientists urge world leaders to scale up ambitions to protect global biodiversity
28/9/2018: An influential science journal beleives that the Aichi targets for global protected land and marine areas established in 2010 are inadequate. It calls on world leaders to review the targets in 2020.
First steps towards a global agreement on the High Seas
20/9/2018: The world’s first efforts to develop a way to govern the high seas – international waters beyond the 200 nautical mile national boundary – is truly underway. The initial round of negotiations at the UN has just ended after two weeks. Source: Inter Press Service
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