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Leopard coming out of shadow

While nations have vowed to take meaningful action to halt species loss and destruction of biodiversity, over 100 conservation groups warn that the progress has been far too slow. (Photo: David Clode on Unsplash)

'Species Extinction Is a Choice': Groups Urge Strong Global Pact to Save Life on Earth

"Please make 2022 the year in which the world chooses to stop extinction and commits the resources to do so," says a letter ahead of an international summit next week. "Life on Earth depends on it."

Jon Queally

Ahead of a global summit next week, a global coalition of conservationists Thursday called on world leaders and policymakers to forge a concrete and meaningful agreement to urgently address the crisis of biodiversity and species loss that is rapidly "unraveling the fabric of life" on planet Earth.

In a letter addressed to parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity—set to kick off its next round of talks on June 21 in Nairobi, Kenya—the more than 100 groups say the "global community is living through an unprecedented biodiversity crisis" that must be urgently addressed.

"We need this agreement to commit to real transformative change because the future depends on it."

While nations have vowed to take meaningful action via the Global Diversity Framework backed by the United Nations, the groups behind the letter said in a statement that the progress has been far too slow.

The letter states that "dozens of species are lost daily, and UN scientists predict we are on track to lose one million species, many in the coming decades."

The consequences of such profound losses "are dire," the letter continues. "We are undermining our planetary life-support systems including food pollination, water purification, carbon sequestration, and disease regulation. Globally, we are losing the very species that inspired our histories, myths, and cultures."

There are high hopes ahead of next week's summit—preliminary talks geared to finalize an agreement ahead of the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity scheduled to take place in Kunming, China in October. However, conflicts over the scope of an agreement and financing mechanisms have added "tensions" to the ongoing negotiations and sparked fears that what the result will fall short of what scientists and experts say is needed.

"It's gut-wrenching that the global framework for saving biodiversity doesn't yet commit to stopping species extinction right now," said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the U.S.-based groups that signed the letter.

"Organizations around the world are demanding action, and all the necessary text for the global community to stop extinction is on the table," Sanerib continued. "We're unraveling the fabric of life and losing the species that make life possible and rewarding. We need this agreement to commit to real transformative change because the future depends on it."

According to the letter:

The world's leading conservation scientists have called for transformative change, and UN Secretary-General Guterres has called for "bold action to end our suicidal war with nature." You can take that action by agreeing to already-proposed text that would set the goal of halting human-caused species extinctions beginning in 2022;  improve the conservation status of threatened species and sustain all other native species by 2030; and ensure full recovery of all species by 2050 in the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Globally we must do everything in our power to accomplish these objectives and accompany them with financial backing and capacity sharing so we can unite to save life on Earth. 

The impending extinction of hundreds of thousands of species is a choice and by maintaining the status quo, governments are choosing extinction. This must stop. Future generations are depending on us to act boldly, and the time to respond to the biodiversity crisis is rapidly dwindling. Please make 2022 the year in which the world chooses to stop extinction and commits the resources to do so. Life on Earth depends on it.

The Convention, comprised of 195 countries plus the European Union, was slated to have a working agreement in place by 2020 but the talks were repeatedly delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Late last year, as Common Dreams reported, an analysis by the World Wildlife Fund warned that the world could be facing within a decade the "largest mass extinction event since dinosaurs" if humanity's destructive behavior is not significantly changed.

Earlier this month, a group of 18 top scientists called for "the need for transformative change" to curb the related crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, emphasizing that incremental solutions or feeble reforms simply would not be enough to curb the interlocking emergencies.

"Species extinction is a choice," said Zak Smith, director of NRDC's Global Biodiversity Conservation program, in a statement Thursday. "As countries put the finishing touches on a new plan to secure the natural life support systems we depend on, they must anchor that plan with a commitment to halt species extinction. Setting such a target is critical for forging a new relationship with nature that saves species, ecosystems, and humanity."

And as the letter concludes: "Future generations are depending on us to act boldly, and the time to respond to the biodiversity crisis is rapidly dwindling. Please make 2022 the year in which the world chooses to stop extinction and commits the resources to do so. Life on Earth depends on it."

Correction: An earlier version of this story conflated next week's summit in Nairobi, Kenya with a separate summit that will take place in Kunming, China later this year.


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