“Nature and biodiversity [are] dying the death of a billion cuts. And humanity is paying the price for betraying its closest friend,” according to Inger Andersen, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Environment Programme Executive Director. In the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, “We are committing suicide by proxy.”
“The world is facing a biodiversity crisis, and nature is under threat all across the globe,” said Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental And Scientific Affairs Monica Medina. “More than one million species are at risk of extinction, many within decades, and more than ever before. This drop in biodiversity endangers all life on our planet, including our own.”
For years, scientists have warned that we may be entering the earth’s sixth mass extinction of plants and animals, caused by human actions such as deforestation and loss of habitat, burning fossil fuels, overfishing, and polluting rivers and oceans. In an effort to finally take decisive steps to remedy this looming disaster, representatives of 196 countries met in Montreal, Canada for twelve days of high-level discussions at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The United States entered the conference with an ambitious goal in mind - to help push through a global biodiversity framework that will conserve or protect at least 30 percent of global lands and waters and 30 percent of the global ocean by 2030. “That goal, known as 30x30, is absolutely essential to support ecosystem health and viability, and arrest the catastrophic decline in nature worldwide,” said Assistant Secretary Medina.
“We believe 30x30 must start at home, involving all of society, including Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and young people – and we are putting it into practice right now,” she said. “The United States is already demonstrating our commitment to conserving biodiversity. One of President Biden’s first executive orders provided the foundation for the “America the Beautiful” Initiative, a commitment to conserve at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.”
On December 19, after almost two weeks of discussion, nearly all parties to the convention adopted the so-called Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which enshrines the 30x30 goals in a major international instrument.
“We now have the opportunity to conserve and protect nature for this and future generations,” said Assistant Secretary Medina. “And with courage and initiative, we need to seize this moment.”