Canada, Britain and EU pledge to protect 30% of land and seas by 2030 to end ‘catastrophic’ biodiversity loss

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Britain and Canada on Monday joined the European Union in pledging to protect 30% of their lands and seas by 2030 to stem ‘catastrophic’ biodiversity loss and help galvanize support for a broader agreement on target ahead of a UN summit.With the twin crisis of climate change and wildlife loss accelerating, leaders are trying to build momentum ahead of the UN meeting in Kunming, China, in May, where nearly 200 countries will negotiate a new agreement on nature protection.

“We must act now: now,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “We cannot afford to procrastinate and delay because biodiversity loss is happening today and it is happening at a frightening rate. If nothing is done, the consequences will be catastrophic for all of us.

“Extinction is eternal, so our action must be immediate. ”

Scientists have said that at least 30 percent of the planet must be saved through protected areas and conservation. A draft Kunming agreement includes this commitment.

WATCH | Justin Trudeau explains Canada’s contribution to the commitment to biodiversity:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discusses Canada’s commitment to biodiversity at the United Nations’ Nature for Life virtual event, days before the United Nations Biodiversity Summit. 2:31

While Monday’s pledges did not detail specific actions or funding plans, protected areas are generally managed to ensure long-term conservation of nature. This can mean curbing or prohibiting commercial or extractive activities, ensuring that preserved natural areas remain intact, or restoring and maintaining ecosystems such as forests and wetlands.

“We have both the responsibility and the opportunity,” said Canadian Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. “We have the second largest land mass, one fifth of the world’s freshwater and the world’s longest coastline, which together are essential for biodiversity and for securing carbon in nature in the fight against climate change.

Engagement d’action

In England, where 26% of the land is already protected, the government said an additional 4,000 km2 would be safeguarded.

However, EJ Milner-Gulland, professor of biodiversity at the University of Oxford said: “It’s great to get an extra four percent, but that, in itself, isn’t going to be a transformative thing in this country. – and in particular if there is no funding. ”

The EU Executive Commission has proposed a target for the bloc of 27 countries to legally protect 30% of its land and sea by 2030. This would save 4% more land and 19% more sea ​​than today.

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Speaking at the United Nations Financing for Nature Forum, German Federal Minister Gerd Mueller said his country plans to increase its annual investment of € 500 million in biodiversity protection in countries with low and middle income, without giving more details.

He said that Germany is also planning to create a fund with public and private lenders to provide long-term financing to protected areas in those countries.

More and more evidence suggests that it pays to protect nature. Expanding areas under conservation could bring in at least $ 5 for every dollar spent, according to an article by more than 100 researchers published in July.

The Nature Conservancy report said the world needs to spend an additional $ 598 billion to $ 824 billion each year over the next decade to reverse the extinction crisis.

On Monday, more than 60 countries – including EU states, Britain and Canada – pledged 10 actions to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, including mainstreaming protection of nature in the COVID-19 stimulus packages, increasing funding to protect the natural world and clamping down on marine pollution and deforestation.

The pledge has been signed by countries like Mexico, Bangladesh, Germany and Norway. Notable absences have been Brazil and Indonesia – two hotspots for deforestation – and China and the United States, the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases.

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