Scientists call for implementation of the World Convention on Nature

Scientists call for implementation of the World Convention on Nature

Johannes Vogel, director of the museum of natural history in Berlin, brought a display case with stuffed pale-footed shearwaters to the appointment. The first disease caused by swallowing plastic has just been detected in these seabirds: plasticosis, inflammation in the digestive tract that, over time, scars and deforms the tissue and can lead to the death of the birds.

Stopping plastic from accumulating in the oceans and endangering animals is an implicit goal of the World Convention on Nature adopted in December Montréal, which aims to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2030. Representatives of German scientific and non-governmental organizations formulated what needs to happen in order for the twenty-three ambitious goals to be implemented on Monday in the Berlin Natural History Museum. The bird preparations illustrated the complexity of the task, which also includes changing economic and production methods in such a way that no more plastic ends up in the stomachs of pale-footed shearwaters.

Business wants rules

Josef Settele, head of department at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research and member of the expert panel of the World Biodiversity Council, whose recommendations formed the basis for the World Convention on Nature, said Montreal had successfully shown how scientific knowledge can flow into policy processes. Improvements are now needed above all in monitoring – i.e. in the instruments that can be used to check the extent to which the 196 contracting states are implementing the agreement.

The insufficient formulation of precise, globally applicable indicators – for example satellite data on habitat changes – is considered to be one of the weak points of the agreement. Another is that it does not oblige states to increase their efforts to achieve nature conservation goals if necessary. Companies are now expecting clear regulations, said Tobias Raffel from the FUTURE Institute for Sustainable Transformation at the Berlin business school ESMT.

Dependent on the services of nature

The Montreal Biodiversity Conference was a wake-up call for the economy – also because of figures like the one that half of the global gross domestic product depends on the services of nature. One is now concerned both with how one’s own actions depend on these services and with how they affect biodiversity. Raffel positively emphasized that the EU has already passed regulations – such as the new directive, which significantly expands the reporting obligation of companies on sustainability; or the deforestation-free supply chain regulation.

Forests in the tropics in particular are being cleared for agriculture due to demand, especially from EU countries – where biodiversity is greatest. Germany is 123rd in the biodiversity ranking. Here, quality is more important than quantity for protected areas – an important element of the World Convention on Nature, said Christof Schenk, director of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, which oversees wilderness areas worldwide.

Designating thirty percent of the area as protected areas, as provided for in the agreement, is probably not possible in Germany “without lying to yourself” – i.e. including, for example, landscape protection areas that already have “protection” in their name, in but there are hardly any requirements for agriculture. Germany’s new biodiversity strategy will specify how the Montreal Treaty is to be implemented in Germany. It will be presented in a few weeks.

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