The SDGs are an opportunity for biodiversity

Europe's World

Climate & Energy

Picture of Claudio Chiarolla
Claudio Chiarolla

Regional Project Specialist at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Last October’s UN conference on biodiversity in Pyeongchang, South Korea, was an important moment for reaffirming the importance of biodiversity for sustainable development.

It culminated in the adoption of a political declaration that recognised the contribution biodiversity makes to development and agreed to link the implementation of the UN’s post-2015 Development Agenda to the application of national biodiversity strategies and the 20 UN biodiversity targets laid down in 2010 at Aichi, Japan.

However, despite those positive signals, the “Gangwon Declaration” that came out of the October meeting was disappointing. The reluctance of some countries to back stronger calls for action meant the declaration failed to emphasise the centrality of cross-cutting biodiversity considerations to this year’s sustainable development goal (SDG) negotiations.

The SDGs are a great chance to promote changes in socio-economic development models that currently affect biodiversity the most

Unfortunately, the mid-term review of progress in implementing the UN’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, which was carried out at the Pyeongchang meeting, revealed insufficient progress towards most targets. Degradation and fragmentation of habitats, pollution from excess nutrients and human damage to coral reefs are just some of the drivers of biodiversity loss shown to be continuing unabated.

Against this backdrop, it’s even more critical that biodiversity concerns are mainstreamed into all policies. National biodiversity strategies and action plans must be implemented across the board – in agriculture, mining, fishing and other economic sectors. Biodiversity conservation should be further integrated into value and commodity chains at global level. Sustainable production, trade and consumption must be key priorities.

Biodiversity conservation should be further integrated into value and commodity chains at global level

There is a risk that political commitments under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, especially the Gangwon Declaration, could be watered down. That would represent a huge missed opportunity to recognise that the conservation of biodiversity is a vital condition if any of the sustainable development goals are to be attained.

Conversely, the SDGs are a great chance to promote changes in socio-economic development models that currently affect biodiversity the most. Decision-makers and stakeholders concerned about biodiversity need to play a bigger role in the SDG negotiations to ensure biodiversity considerations and safeguards are integrated into all post-2015 objectives.

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