For Immediate Release, October 8, 2021

Contact:

Tanya Sanerib, (206) 379-7363, tsanerib@biologicaldiversity.org

Part One of UN Biodiversity Meetings Starts: Will World Call for Halt to Extinctions in 2022?

Ambitious Action Needed to Fight Biodiversity Crisis, Conservationists Say

WASHINGTON— As countries prepare to gather online starting Oct. 11 for the 15th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity, conservationists are calling on attendees to adopt an agreement to halt human-induced extinctions in 2022.

The five-day meeting that starts Monday will set the stage for 2022 negotiations and the adoption of a global framework to address the biodiversity crisis. The U.N. Biodiversity Convention functions as the premier international agreement on biodiversity conservation, with 195 countries and the European Union working toward sustaining life on Earth.

“Our planet’s fabric of life is unraveling, and it’s now or never to take a stand and declare that 2022 is the year we halt human-induced extinctions,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Animals and plants are vanishing at an appalling rate, and the U.N. Biodiversity Convention’s scientific advisors say that nothing short of transformative change will stop this catastrophe. The convention’s framework needs to focus on immediately halting human-caused species loss before we irretrievably lose life as we know it.”

The convention’s current draft framework calls only for reducing the rate and risk of extinction. It does not sufficiently acknowledge human exploitation’s role in species loss or the need for an immediate halt to human-caused extinctions, conservationists say.

U.N. scientific advisors identified in a 2019 assessment that the world stands to lose 1 million species in the coming decades without a change to business as usual. Other global indices show that 28% of assessed species are currently at risk of extinction and that vertebrate populations worldwide have declined by an average of 68% over the past 40 years.

In addition to species conservation and outlining a target of protecting 30% of land, fresh water and sea globally, the draft global framework addresses numerous threats to biodiversity. It calls for eliminating the discharge of plastic pollution by 2030, managing invasive species pathways, contributing to climate mitigation and increasing funding for conservation.

But despite the likely zoonotic origins of the COVID-19 virus and its probable ties to wildlife trade and exploitation, the framework only calls for such trade to be “safe for human health.”

“G20 panelists have predicted a COVID-like event every decade. I for one don’t want to relive 2020 over and over again, and that requires a drastic reduction in commercial use of wildlife,” said Sanerib. “We need to eliminate wildlife trade and exploitation that isn’t ecologically sustainable or legal or that threatens human or animal health. This pandemic era is a symptom of the larger biodiversity crisis. Addressing this threat will also help curtail species loss, but action is needed now.”

The global framework will be taken up in January 2022 at negotiations slated to take place in person in Geneva, Switzerland. The framework will then be presented for further deliberation and adoption at the second part of the U.N. biodiversity meeting planned for late April 2022 in Kunming, China.

Timeline

Oct. 11-15, 2021: Part one of the U.N. Biodiversity CoP15 will be held virtually.

Jan. 12-28, 2022: Intersessional Meetings, including in-person negotiations of the global framework, will be held in Geneva, Switzerland.

April 25-May 8, 2022: Part two of the U.N. Biodiversity CoP15 will be held in Kunming, China.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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