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China Daily Global / 2023-05 / 30 / Page013

Life support

By KENT NNADOZIE | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-05-30 00:00

The Global Biodiversity Framework is a crucial step toward preserving our planet's ecosystems

Biodiversity is the basis of life on Earth. We live biodiversity, we eat biodiversity and we are biodiversity. Without it, our world would be lifeless. The Earth's diverse ecosystems provide us with essential services, from clean air and water to food and medicine. In today's rapidly changing world, one of the most pressing challenges we face is the alarming loss of biodiversity.

The critical importance of conserving biodiversity and of reversing its loss is now well-acknowledged, most notably through the adoption of a number of international biodiversity related conventions, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, among others.

Over 80 percent of the human diet is provided by plants, plants that we must conserve and use in a sustainable manner. This includes taking care of the seeds and other plant genetic material that comprise those plants. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's report on "The State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture" shows that loss of diversity poses a serious risk to global food security by undermining the resilience of many agricultural systems. FAO members are convinced of the importance of biodiversity. They adopted the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and, more recently, the FAO Strategy on Mainstreaming Biodiversity across Agricultural Sectors, and are implementing it across their food systems.

Recognizing the urgent need to protect and restore nature, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) has emerged as a pivotal instrument in safeguarding the planet's ecological treasures. The GBF was adopted at the recent 15th Conference of Parties to the CBD, under the presidency of China. Its successful implementation is vital for a sustainable future for humans and for nature.

China played a crucial role in the adoption of the GBF and has demonstrated a strong commitment to addressing the global biodiversity crisis. China contributed to the discussions and helped shape the framework's goals, targets, and implementation mechanisms. Holding the presidency of the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, China engaged in constructive dialogue with other countries, fostering consensus and promoting a shared understanding despite the long and very challenging negotiations.

The GBF serves as a comprehensive road map for global action on biodiversity conservation. It outlines ambitious targets to be achieved by 2030, aimed at halting biodiversity loss and ensuring the restoration of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed. The framework calls for the conservation of 30 percent of land and sea, and 30 percent restoration of degraded ecosystems by 2030 as part of the four goals and 23 targets to be achieved by then. By setting clear objectives, the GBF creates a shared vision for governments, indigenous peoples and local communities, civil society organizations, and businesses worldwide. Its emphasis on the principles of equity, social inclusion, and sustainable development highlights the need for a holistic approach to address biodiversity loss.

This landmark agreement represents a watershed moment in terms of human commitment toward taking better care of the planet's biodiversity. The GBF does not view biodiversity in isolation from other broad policy objectives; in line with the approach of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, the framework is intended to produce benefits for the planet's ecosystems and for people. It sees biodiversity as vital to improving agricultural and food production for humans and maintaining the planet's resources and ecosystems. Compelling evidence suggests the need for more and more actions to be taken to safeguard biodiversity and sustainably manage natural resources.

The Chinese government recognizes the importance of biodiversity conservation for sustainable development and has taken significant steps to integrate biodiversity considerations into its national policies and practices. It has also taken practical steps to address biodiversity loss by promoting domestic initiatives, and by implementing policies and programs aimed at protecting and restoring ecosystems, conserving endangered species, and promoting sustainable land and resources management.

In the post-COVID-19 context, it is essential to build the resilience of the global community to future threats. Food insecurity is one of those threats; hence, the fundamental role of agriculture, which the Global Biodiversity Framework acknowledges. There is the continuous need to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. Consequently, the framework establishes a template for action toward paving the way for more sustainable agriculture and food systems, and to delivering healthy food and prosperity for all, while preserving the planet's natural resources.

Under the GBF, food production systems are to reduce their negative impacts on biodiversity and climate change. They must become more resilient to the current and future impacts of climate change, learning from good practices to promote transformative adaptation policies, plans and actions. The framework recognizes that food production is no longer exclusively the goal of the agricultural sector and, since seeds are the building blocks for the diversification of food systems, the challenge for the sector comes with this diversification of policy objectives.

The global community is interconnected and interdependent when it comes to food and agriculture, and it is through international cooperation and coordinated action that we can address the challenges posed by food insecurity and biodiversity loss.

It is in this context that international agreements such as the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture can contribute to saving, sharing and taking care of the seeds and other plant genetic resources that feed the world, through its dynamic and well-developed multilateral mechanisms, and as part of conserving the biodiversity on earth, as called for in the GBF. And it equally counts on global support and universal membership for its mission to conserve and sustainably use these precious natural resources. The continuous availability of genetic resources to breed new, more efficient plant varieties for food production remains essential to building sustainable and resilient food systems and meeting environmental objectives.

This crucial turning point now has to be actualized — through action. International agreement and cooperation is very important, but the true test is in the actions we take to make it actually happen — to actually achieve the 23 targets everyone has agreed on.

Conserving biodiversity requires concerted efforts from all sectors of society and the implementation of the GBF requires collective action, political will and sustained commitment from all stakeholders. It is by incorporating diverse perspectives and embracing a more inclusive approach to biodiversity conservation, that countries can ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of their efforts. As individuals, we can contribute by advocating the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, making responsible consumer choices, and supporting initiatives that prioritize nature's protection.

Moreover, this global commitment to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity should be reflected in international partnerships and collaborations, and through the sharing of expertise, resources and experiences with other countries, in the understanding that addressing these challenges requires collective action.

As one of the world's largest economies and a country rich in biodiversity, China plays a crucial role in the efforts to ensure the successful implementation of the GBF and the preservation of global ecological integrity.

By embracing the goals and principles of the GBF, we can strive to realize a future where the richness and diversity of our planet's ecosystems are preserved for ourselves and generations to come. Let us join hands to safeguard our natural heritage and create a world where nature thrives alongside human progress.

The author is the secretary of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.


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