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Nations need to conserve biodiversity or they will miss targets: WWF

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The World Wildlife Fund has warned that if governments around the world do not implement necessary measures to conserve biodiversity, there is an increased likelihood that they will miss their targets, which in turn will spell a disaster globally.

According to the WWF, there is a need to urgently implement the collective commitments to global biodiversity conservation as agreed upon in 2010. 196 countries agreed to take steps to improve the condition of major natural systems including freshwater, forests and oceans as well as supporting wildlife around the world.

The countries are going to meet up again from December 4 to 17 in Cancun, Mexico, and according to WWF only 5 per cent of countries will be on track to meet the convention’s objectives – collectively known as the Aichi targets. To ensure that biodiversity is maintained across the globe, countries need to dramatically raise their individual ambitions at the upcoming meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

WWF protected in one of its reports that 2020, the same year that the Aichi targets are due, average wildlife population sizes could decline by two-thirds from their 1970 levels. The Living Planet Report 2016 also points to the promise of international agreements like CBD to support biodiversity and the human population that relies on nature for its well-being.

Deon Nel, Global Conservation Director of WWF International, points out that countries are missing the mark on the Aichi targets and if the plans are not translated into the right level of ambition and commitment by individual countries, there will be massive declines in wildlife population around the world.

Ambition to support nature is still woefully low and biodiversity conservation remains a fringe issue in national economic planning. Countries, for the most part, remain content with exploiting the environment for short-term economic solutions, while eroding its longer-term potential to sustainably provide food, employment and support economic and human development.

While it is impossible to reverse the damage we have caused to biodiversity over the years, there is always a possibility that countries can decide towards actions that translates into results making a positive impact on Earth.

Governments in the Cancun meeting need to find ways to more effectively implement the global agreement. To do so, major efforts are required to include biodiversity into strategic decisions on agriculture, fisheries, forestry and tourism. The importance of nature should also be more strongly integrated into national sustainable development plans, economic policy and national budgets, so that the real value of biodiversity can be properly understood.

Countries meeting in Cancun should also demonstrate that they are prepared to meet their promise to redirect subsidies that are harmful to biodiversity as well as meet pledges to double international financing to biodiversity conservation that were meant to be achieved last year.