Open Letter to the U.N. Secretary General and Heads of State of Parties to the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity

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27 June 2022

Three years ago, scientists released the most comprehensive global assessment of the state of biodiversity ever.  They found that, “Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely.”   They warned that up to one million species face extinction, many within decades and said that  the current global response was insufficient.  The scientists called for “transformative changes” to restore and protect nature.

Shortly after this dire assessment and warning, 196 countries began working on a strategy under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to update and revise global biodiversity targets. They have now met four times in person and held numerous regional consultations and online meetings with a mandate to adopt a Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework at COP15, which is finally now set for December 2022.   

We participated in good faith in all of the meetings and discussions.  We offered ambitious  solutions.  We have worked with countries to encourage coalitions around key elements of the agreement to ensure momentum.  People across the world have been calling on their governments to deliver an ambitious deal that is required to literally save life on Earth. 

However, several years into this process and at the conclusion of the 4th Open-Ended Working Group, we must sound the alarm that this process has reached a crisis point.  Progress is not being made. Negotiations have become stagnant, and the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework is in peril. Countries had once pointed to COP15 as an opportunity to deliver a global deal for nature and people similar in significance to the Paris Climate Agreement, but there is a notable absence of the high level political engagement, will and leadership to drive through compromise and to guide and inspire the commitments that are required. 

The UN Secretary General, Heads of State and ministers from every continent have publicly declared their determination to address this crisis. Canada has generously accepted hosting the COP15 in Montreal and China holds the Presidency. We now call on the UNSG to work with both countries to urgently convene high level leaders to step in and help get it done. The ideas of how to solve this crisis and the communities on the frontlines who can deliver change are there. There are adequate resources to confront this global challenge if saving our life support system is truly made the priority it needs to be.  What we now need is urgent concerted leadership from all parties to drive through the rights-based transformative change that scientists say is required and fully reflects the contributions of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. 

Today we all have a choice - let this process run its course and endorse business as usual - which will take our planet to the brink - or provide the leadership that the moment requires.


Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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