Peace & Justice
|From left: Sr. Dusty Farnan, the NGO representative to the UN for the Dominican Order; Sr. Veronica Brand, the representative to the UN for the Religious Sisters of the Sacred Heart; and Sinsinawa Promoter of Peace and Justice Sr. Reg McKillip|
COP15 Biodiversity Conference
‘To Infinity and Beyond . . .’
by Mary Catherine Rice, OP
|COP15 IN SUMMARY|
|•||30x30 Target—30 percent of the world’s biodiversity is to be preserved by 2030.
|•||NBS—Nature-Based Solutions are to be employed in preserving biodiversity.
|•||$$$—Funding is essential; a delivery system needs to be developed immediately.
|•||Transparency—Money pledged at COP27 cannot be re-committed to COP15. In other words, no double counting of the same money.|
The phrase, “To infinity and beyond . . .,” from the movie Toy Story comes to mind whenever I think about my experience attending COP15, the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in December. The biodiversity framework that emerged from the conference is beyond anything I expected. I was excited to be where issues were discussed and debated and decisions were agreed upon. Whether attending the daily media sessions where I heard what had been discussed the previous day or visiting the Faith Pavilion where important conversations and connections were made, I felt as if I were among kindred spirits realizing our rightful place on this fragile Earth. We are a part of nature, not apart from it.
Biodiversity is what keeps life on Earth in balance. It refers to the incredible variety built into Earth’s habitats and ecosystems, its plants and animals, and even the genetic material making up those species. Without biodiversity, imbalances in any system are detrimental to the entire system; therefore, recognizing and doing something about biodiversity loss is essential to solving our current climate emergency.
Biodiversity loss is happening right now. In North America, there has been a 33 percent drop in animal species since 1970; in Latin America, a 94 percent drop; in Africa, 65 percent; in Europe and Central Asia, 24 percent; and in the Asian Pacific, 45 percent. These drops do not take into account the loss of plant species upon which all life depends. The specific regional causes might vary, but in general, they are caused by habitat destruction through logging, mining, and agricultural practices; invasive species; disease; and the overexploitation of fish and other animals. The current driver of biodiversity loss is climate change, the other side of the environmental emergency. Each cause exacerbates the other. Biodiversity loss affects the ability of Earth to respond to the excess carbon dioxide produced by our activities. In turn, changes in climate adversely affect the very existence of those ecosystems and the life in them, including us.
Is there good news in any of this? I can answer with a resounding, “YES!” Panelists suggested that the next biodiversity COP (#16 to be held in Turkey in 2024) be a joint COP (#28) with the climate conference in order to address the emergency together. This is reminiscent of the words in Laudato Si’: “We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the underprivileged, and at the same time protecting nature” (139). Daring to paraphrase the words of Pope Francis, “We are not faced with two separate environmental crises, one climate and the other biodiversity loss, but rather one complex overriding crisis which all humanity faces together. The solution demands an integrated approach to combating the consequences of how the developed countries have lived and continue to live with little or no regard to how the underdeveloped countries pay the price.”
Will this joint conference ever happen? Probably not. But the realization at COP15 that it should happen is enough to give me hope, “To infinity and beyond . . .”