Though the discussions in some ecologically minded groups that I attend say that “we have to do it ourselves, because governments and technologies, international conferences and business won’t help in time on climate change…” I still look for eco-hope wherever it might be found. In December of 2022, two international conferences meet again. COP27 on climate change meets at Sharm el-Shiekh, Egypt; the second, COP15 on biological diversity, meets in Montreal. There is hope for both. Montreal has delivered before on major ecological cooperation, and there is hope there, especially during COP15, which will be the world’s largest gathering on protecting biological diversity in a generation.
The Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992 gave birth to two ongoing conventions: the United Nations Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC), and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD.) Both will meet with thousands of attendees before Christmas this year. For both, the hard work of negotiating and firming up plans takes place over many months and years. According to John Vidal, writing for The Guardian, CBD is trending toward a major environmental agreement. A proposal known as “30 x 30” is in development within a global biodiversity framework (GBF), in which member nations would agree to protect 30% of the Earth’s land and sea by the year 2030. That would be a major gain from the 17% of land and 8% of sea that is currently officially protected (at least on paper) under international agreements. The “30 x 30“ proposal is also anticipated to include strong agreements that empower local and indigenous peoples to retain and increase land tenure.
It’s certainly time—and past time—for much stronger protections of biological diversity. Highlighting the 2020 Living Planet Report of the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London, Douglas Chadwick wrote in his book, Four Fifths a Grizzly, that their global survey based on counts of 2,392 vertebrate species shows a 70% decline in the number of Earth’s wild animals since 1970. “In other words, of every ten wild animals that roamed Earth half a century ago, only three stand in their place today,” writes Chadwick.
So, the urgency is well known among the scientists, conservation and wildlife groups, diplomats and politicians who will meet at Montreal, and also at COP 27 at Sharm el-Shiekh. Writes Vidal, “The omens are surprisingly good. Many of the high-level intergovernmental negotiations have been completed at virtual meetings, the US and China are still talking, no countries are threatening yet to wreck an agreement, and unlike during the climate talks, finance is not expected to be the ultimate roadblock.”
Follow the lead-up to these conventions through your choice of media outlets. My primary source is The Guardian; of course, the articles there also include obligatory requests for financial support. I bypass those requests, but give to such groups as Nature Conservancy, which acquire and protect habitats as possible.
Take and give hope wherever it is to be found!