Scientists and Environmental Leaders Call for "Global Deal for Nature" to Protect Half the World's Lands and Seas

2019-04-20 03:30 1962

- Conservation scientists, environmental groups, and indigenous leaders urge governments to adopt a "Global Deal for Nature" (GDN) as a companion to the Paris Climate Agreement to tackle the interlinked crises of biodiversity loss and climate change

- A new GDN paper is the first effort to establish science-based conservation targets for the entire planet – across terrestrial, freshwater, and marine realms – achieving a milestone of 30% fully protected by 2030, with an additional 20% protected under Climate Stabilization Areas (CSAs)

- One Earth, an initiative of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, has launched a petition at along with environmental organizations including RESOLVE, and indigenous federations in support of this goal

WASHINGTON, April 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Nations must commit to protect half of the Earth to avoid massive biodiversity loss and the worst effects of dangerous climate change, according to a new scientific paper entitled A Global Deal for Nature: Guiding Principles, Milestones, and Targets, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The One Earth Climate Model (LDF 1.5°C Scenario).
The One Earth Climate Model (LDF 1.5°C Scenario).

The paper lays out a science-driven plan to save the diversity and abundance of life on Earth by protecting natural ecosystems that play a critical function in storing carbon, producing freshwater, and providing food security – the enabling conditions required for humanity to thrive.

The proposed GDN targets 30% of Earth to be formally protected no later than 2030 under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), with approximately 20% in additional lands designated as Climate Stabilization Areas (CSAs), to help the world stay below the recommended target of a 1.5°C rise in average global temperature and to preserve biodiversity.

Building on a landmark study from 2017 by many of the same scientists, the new paper provides the rationale for a GDN agreement between nations to protect half of the Earth - adding analysis of existing conservation strategies and a clear pathway to achieving the goal through, for example, a stronger focus on the rights of indigenous communities to steward their lands for effective conservation.

This campaign, being spearheaded by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation's One Earth initiative, aims to usher in a new era of ambitious conservation in which international institutions, governments and people work together to save nature - from supporting communal conservancies in Namibia's Damaraland that is home to wild lions and elephant herds, to indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon that conserve key ecosystems and safe havens for jaguars and rare primates, to the last home of the orangutan in indigenous reserves in Borneo.

Based on the GDN paper, a petition has now been launched by One Earth and leading nongovernmental and indigenous organizations, asking the public to support the most comprehensive conservation targets yet to save biodiversity, avert a climate crisis, and ensure a future for humanity.

Eric Dinerstein, lead author of A Global Deal for Nature: Guiding Principles, Milestones, and Targets and Director of the Biodiversity and Wildlife program at RESOLVE, said: "Pairing a new 'Global Deal for Nature' with the Paris Climate Agreement would give us the best chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change, of conserving threatened species, and of ensuring the health of the ecosystems that are so essential for sustaining life on Earth."

"Nature provides the ecological building blocks of human civilization – from the mangroves and coral reefs that harbor much of the world's tropical fisheries, to the trees that purify our air and water, to the insects, birds, and bats that pollinate our crops. Simply put, we need wild nature in every one of the Earth's 846 terrestrial ecoregions, conserved in protected areas representing the complex web of nature upon which we all depend."

Gregorio Mirabal, president of COICA (Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin), said: "Science is telling us something our traditional knowledge has been warning of for decades: the Earth is dying. We urgently need a Global Deal for Nature to restore half of the natural world as soon as possible and, as guardians of 80% of the planet's biodiversity, indigenous peoples must play a central role in that pact. Indigenous communities truly understand what it means to live in harmony with nature – now governments need to recognize that our ancestral knowledge will be key to ensuring that we all have a future on this Earth."

Karl Burkart, Director of Media, Science and Technology at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, said: "The science is now clear. We must act with boldness and vision if we are to prevent the worsening impacts of climate change – from sea level rise and extreme flooding to prolonged drought, cataclysmic fire events, and collapsing food systems. Ultimately, we will stay below the 1.5˚C threshold because we must. And the 'Global Deal for Nature' is a big part of how we do it."

Thomas Lovejoy, co-author and editor of the book Climate Change and Biodiversity, said: "The science is telling us that if we go above 1.5˚C, we could experience an 'extinction tsunami' resulting in the collapse of many key ecosystems. We cannot solve the biodiversity crisis without solving the climate crisis, and we cannot solve the climate crisis without solving the biodiversity crisis. The two are interlinked."

Enric Sala, Explorer-in-Residence at National Geographic, said: "The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, are all dependent on other forms of life. We need to give them more space so that the natural world can continue providing for us. If we don't keep hold of the intact nature we still have, it will be impossible to achieve the Paris climate goals, or any of the Sustainable Development Goals on which the future of humanity depends."

One Earth
One Earth is an initiative of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF). LDF has provided over $100 million in grants to projects around the world that build climate resiliency, protect vulnerable wildlife, and restore balance to threatened ecosystems and communities. The new One Earth initiative offers a vision for the world that is possible by mid-century, a world in which humanity and nature can coexist and thrive. Its three pillars of action – 100% renewable energy, protection and restoration of 50% of the world's lands and oceans, and a transition to regenerative agriculture – provide a way to both avert a climate crisis and protect the planet's biodiversity. After a two-year collaboration with leading scientists, the One Earth climate model was released by Springer Nature in a book entitled Achieving the Paris Climate Agreement Goals (2019). The state-of-the-art modeling framework offers a roadmap to stay below the threshold of 1.5˚C in global temperature rise using currently available technologies and natural climate solutions.

RESOLVE is a Washington, DC-based non-profit organization that forges sustainable solutions to critical environmental, social, and health challenges by creating innovative partnerships where they are least likely and most needed. RESOLVE's Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions Program tackles the most pressing conservation problems of our time – the approaching extinction of endangered wildlife and threats to habitats, including tropical forests where most of the world's species reside – through technological innovation, ambitious global agreements, and targeted land protection.

Media Contact:
Kevin Maloney
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