This is a day to celebrate: that biodiversity is recognised across the globe, right? The theme this year is linked to Sustainable Development. The focus is on efforts to integrate biodiversity targets into Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). All the buzz words and acronyms but how does it translate into actions? The goals were part of the outcome document from the Rio+20 Summit and are expected to become part of the United Nations (UN) overarching development agenda beyond 2015. There are currently 17 objectives, and the first is to ‘end poverty in all its forms everywhere’, with other goals focusing on resilient infrastructure, gender empowerment and sustainable use of natural resources.
“Biodiversity and ecosystems should be integrated and into the UN post 2015 sustainable development agenda,” says Susan Brown, Director of Global and Regional Policy at World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Andrew Deutz, Director of International Government Relations at The Nature Conservancy explains further : ” The focus of Goal 15, for example, encompasses sustainable management of ecosystems and halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss. There are indicators within the SDG on food security that mention sustainable agriculture,” says Deutz. “Another Goal that deals with water discusses restoring freshwater ecosystems and managing water resources with integrated approaches.”
Deutz says one of the most important notions to come out of the SDG panel was that the environment is not a stand-alone pillar. “Environment and natural resource management need to be integrated across the full spectrum of other goals,” he says. So success looks like achievements that conserve the environment while also ensuring food security. Are these goals really achievable? In March this year during a visit to London I was lucky to get to the Syngenta Photography Exhibition held at Somerset House. The theme explores global challenges and was titled: “Scarcity Waste” and was represented under four themes: “Planet under Pressure”, “Our Footprint”, “Food Waste”, and “Shaping our Future”. A picture is worth a thousand words, so the saying goes, and how relevant it is in this context. The photographers captured seeringly desolate scenes, scenes that chill the heart. On the one hand the plight of the desperately poor and on the other the extravagant waste of the first world populations. As more than 800 million people go to bed hungry worldwide, others throw away over half of the food they buy. A third of the world’s food prodution is lost or wasted along the supply chain. In a world of limited resources, scarcity and waste have become fundamental social, political and environmental issues of our time. Something needs to change! Text and photographs below are those displayed at the Syngenta Photography Exhibition under the theme:
“Planet under Pressure”
“Our demands on nature are increasing: we are eating into our natural capital, making it more difficult to sustain the needs of the future. We have become the dominant force that is both shaping and altering the planet as a whole. Our impact is no longer local; it’s global. The effect of a growing human population will multiply the pressure we place on natural resources. Our challenge is to ensure that there is enough land, food and water for future generations.”
- Photo Credit:
Alnis Stakle, ‘From the series Shangri-La’
Shanghai, China, 2013
Tomas Chadim, ‘Violated Landscape’
Czech republic, 01/05/2014
Carlos Cazalis, ‘Iztapalapa’
Mexico City, Mexico, 2010
Pierpaolo Mittica, ‘Slag Mountain’
Karabash, Russia, 2013
Olaf Unverzart, ‘Trucktracks on a Glacier’
Mittelbergferner, Austria, 07/07/2012
Also part of the exhibition is this topical video “Welcome to the Anthropocene” The impact of humanity is highlighted in a 3-minute journey through the last 250 years of our history, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the Rio+20 Summit. The film charts the growth of humanity into a global force on an equivalent scale to major geological processes.
I came away from the exhibition with a sense of hopelessness at how far reaching and at the immensity of the scale of damage. Nature is seriously in the balance. Some weeks ago there was a review in one of our weekend newspapers on the powerful book “Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot” which as with the Syngenta photo images also aims at raising awareness and highlighting the perilous state of our planet. The Global Populations Speak Out campaign is spreading globally. Here I have found voices to admire and a campaign worthy of support. Musimbi Kanyoro who writes the Foreword-
“Realizing our common humanity invites us to embrace common responsibility and to care for one another and the planet on which we live. The emergence of such grave global challenges as biodiversity loss and climate change demands our urgent and undivided attention. The health of the oceans, the air, the water, and the land affects human health. The size of the human family and the way that we live influence the quality of life for people today as well as for future generations. Moreover, our numbers and behavior profoundly affect nonhuman species, all of the creatures with which we share this beautiful but finite planet. The web of life that these species create is what makes the Earth habitable and lovely.”
and Eileen Crist who writes the Afterword and who ends her essay with the following thoughts –
“We need an authentic green revolution. Instead of holding demographic growth as given, and a biosphere-wrecking food system as normal, let’s imagine what the world could look like if we actively renounced both. Such a world would be dramatically more beautiful and sane following expansive rewilding—with abundant food, ecologically and ethically produced; with streams, rivers, lakes, and estuaries returned to being living waters; with deforestation halted and grassland ecologies reinstated; with the extinction crisis arrested and seas thriving again with Life; and with climate change made more manageable via carbon-sequestering forests and grasslands and decelerated emissions. If all these things can be achieved, what is keeping us from pursuing such a world? Indeed, what is detaining us from creating a civilization in harmony with wild Earth?”
http://www.eileencrist.com/images/pdf/Crist-Choosing-a-Planet-of-Life.pdf http://www.populationspeakout.org Further reading on SBD’s https://www.cbd.int/sbstta/doc/trondheim-full-paper-2-sdgs-en.pdf
“The economic and social needs of human populations willcontinue to rely on wild species, which implies that these willhave to be used in a sustainable way, avoiding any threats ofextinction. Solutions involve much more than looking at allliving things as an economic resource, they are about changinglegal and institutional frameworks as well as individual habits,particularly in industrialized nations, if species are to be saved.The CBD* has not reached this level of action to drive changesin economic systems that currently allow species to be over-exploited and placed on the verge of extinction”
* Convention on Biological Diversity
4 thoughts on “It’s International Biodiversity Day!”
Oh my; even on the small screen, these images are powerful and prompt tears… I remain baffled how/why many people choose to ignore what’s so very obvious… we’ve raped our planet and there are masses of “those who have more” that have little compassion for “those who have little.”
I have lots of images to upload to the Great Nature Project and will start as soon as I return from breakfast. Am still weak from the dengue but getting stronger.
From a quiet hostal with fast internet!
Geographic’s site for your readers: http://greatnatureproject.org
Thanks for the link Zee, I’ll take a look. That’s bad news re the dengue; was it the hemorhagic type or the ‘breakbone’ fevers? Not nice, whichever. Hope you recover fully soon.
The local clinic strictly checks for ‘negative or positive’ and gives no details. This was the 2nd case for me, and the first 15 years ago was definitely a break-bone event. This one was actually easier, yet it came with many complications.. most likely a touch of the dengue shock.. each week i return for blood tests to be sure there are no new surprises. getting stronger but it’s a slow process.
thanks again for a great post. i wish more people were truly interested in the health of our planet.
So true, so important. The first thing we must do to save what is left of unspoilt nature and biodiversity is to stop population growth. We are too many, that is the nr 1 problem.