The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) will attend the biggest biodiversity conference in a decade as world leaders are expected to agree on a new global biodiversity framework.
The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) will begin in Montreal, Canada tomorrow (Wednesday, December 7).
At COP15 all parties need to agree on an ambitious framework to effectively halt and reverse biodiversity loss, which, the IWT said, “threatens to end human civilisation as we know it”.
One million species are currently at risk of extinction, 75% of the world’s crops depend on pollinators, and half of the global GDP depends on nature, according to the European Commission.
Campaign officer at the IWT, Pádraic Fogarty, who will be representing the organisation as an observer, said it is important to recognise the threat posed by biodiversity collapse as distinct from the climate crisis.
“While there are important interactions between the two issues, we must recognise the different drivers – specifically habitat loss, over exploitation, pollution and alien invasive species.
“There is a tendency to think that climate change is driving the extinction of species in Ireland but this is not the case. Our over-exploitative use of land, water and sea is the cause.
“If we are to get a handle on this issue, it’s vital that these distinctions are fully recognised,” the IWT’s campaign officer said.
The IWT will be working in Montreal to highlight the biodiversity crisis and how it relates to Ireland, Fogarty said.
“We believe that biodiversity recovery in Ireland is not only vitally important for our future, but is a hugely positive endeavour that can improve livelihoods.
“To that end, we need to ensure that solutions are equitable and recognise the central role that people play in the wider ecosystem,” he added.
COP15 is held under the Convention on Biological Diversity agreed in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and to which Ireland is a signatory, according to the IWT.
At COP15, the European Union will negotiate for measurable goals and targets to achieve the following:
- Protect at least 30% of land and oceans by 2030;
- Restore three billion hectares of both land and oceans;
- Halt species extinctions caused by humans;
- Address unsustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries;
- Tackle drivers of biodiversity loss such as pesticides, invasive alien species and plastics;
- Strengthen the links between biodiversity and climate action, for example with nature-based solutions.
“These targets should be supported by a strong monitoring and review process, as well as clear provisions on scaling up financing from all sources – public and private, domestic and international,” the commission said.