By Akinbiodun Kehinde Tosin
According to a 2019 report, it is estimated that three-quarters of the world’s land surface and 66 percent of its oceans had been significantly altered, leaving one million species facing extinction
Scientists, rights advocates and delegates from nearly 200 countries are gathering in Canada this week to tackle one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues: the loss of biodiversity and what can be done to reverse it.
For years, experts have sounded the alarm over how climate change and other factors are leading to an “unprecedented” decline in animals, plants, and other species, and threatening various ecosystems.
Against that backdrop, the United Nations’ biodiversity conference, known as COP15, begins its sessions on Wednesday in Montreal with the aim of setting out a plan to tackle global biodiversity loss over the next decade and beyond.
“This is potentially an historic moment for biodiversity,” said Andrew Gonzalez, a professor in the biology department at McGill University in Montreal and founding director of the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science.
Biodiversity – short for biological diversity – refers to the many forms of life on Earth, from animals, plants, and microbial species to habitats and entire ecosystems, such as rainforests and coral reefs.
It affects everything from global health and food security to the economy and the wider fight to tackle the climate crisis, the United Nations explains.
More than half the world’s total gross domestic product (GDP)– approximately $44 trillion – also is “moderately or highly dependent” on nature and thus vulnerable to its loss, the World Economic Forum said in a 2020 report (PDF).
“Climate change is not the only horseman of the environmental apocalypse. Nature loss looms just as large. And the two are intertwined. You can’t solve one without addressing the other,” said Carter Roberts, president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund-US.