What We're Talking About This Month - UNA-USA

What We’re Talking About This Month: August 2020

A Closer Look at Biodiversity

Not only was it the UN’s theme for World Environment Day this year, but it’s the topic of a UN Summit on Biodiversity on September 30, and it’s the subject of a major report due shortly before.

Biodiversity is important for many reasons:

  • Nature’s wild places have an intrinsic value to humanity, as do the rights of Indigenous peoples to their traditional lifestyles that help maintain nature.
  • Biodiversity also benefits the climate as healthy forests and oceans store carbon and protect humanity from natural disasters;
  • And it keeps us healthy as a  source of food, clean water, and medicine, and by creating a natural barrier between humans and deadly pathogens like coronaviruses.

As countries plan ways to recover better, putting nature at the heart of decision-making for people and the planet must be a top priority.

Here are some facts and figures highlighting the need to protect biodiversity:

  • Biodiversity conservation is The Climate Solution Hiding in Plain Sight, expected to provide as much as a third of the climate change mitigation needed to keep the world below extreme warming.
  • One million plant and animal species are facing extinction – largely because of humans – according to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
  • According to IPBES, human activity accounts for the five main drivers of biodiversity loss: land-use change, overexploitation of plants and animals, climate emergency, pollution, and invasive alien species.
  • Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people and research shows that these diseases are on the rise. At present, about 1 billion cases of illness, and millions of deaths, occur every year as humans encroach ever faster on wild spaces. Sixty percent of all known infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic, as are 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases.

Want to get involved? Here are some ideas.

  • Educate: Indigenous communities are at the front-lines of protecting the world’s biodiversity but this is often unrecognized or actively opposed.
      • Watch a short clip about the determination and innovation of Indigenous peoples as they fight to protect wild spaces.
      • Read the story of UNA-USA member Ruth Miller, member of the Dena’ina Athabascan tribe in Alaska and Indigenous-led climate justice activist.
  • Inspire: The UN Secretary-General recently launched his new Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change featuring seven young climate leaders from around the world. This marks the first time young climate leaders take on a formal, ongoing role advising the Secretary-General. Be inspired by and learn about the Youth Advisory Group members here.
  • Take Action: Tell your Members of Congress that climate action must remain a top priority, especially as COVID-19 continues to impact everyone around the world. 

Events in August: