Nature is Disappearing: Here’s Why it Matters and What to Do About it

Perhaps the clearest role the U.S. can play in halting and reversing global nature loss by 2030 is in the assistance it provides to those countries where biodiversity is richest but the resources to protect it are most lacking, in addition to shifting domestic policies and trade practices away from those that destroy nature and toward those that support a “nature positive” world.

by Will Gartshore at The Hill: The last few months have amounted to a crescendo of reminders that humanity’s relationship with nature is broken. Unprecedented floods inundated communities in Wyoming, Kentucky, and Pakistan. Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc along the East Coast. A megadrought is forcing tens of millions of people from Colorado to Arizona to face the prospects of drastic restrictions on water use. These crises all share a connection to climate change. But our broken relationship with nature has triggered a parallel crisis as well: a rapid loss of biodiversity. This week brought more grim news on that front, detailed in World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) 2022 Living Planet Report. The report card is not good: Wildlife populations have now declined by an average of 69 percent globally since 1970. The numbers are more shocking among certain species and for certain regions. Freshwater ecosystems have seen an 83 percent drop in the abundance of species; and Latin America has been the hardest hit region, with a 94 percent overall decline. Driving this loss of nature are human activities, including over-exploitation of species and destruction of their habitats, particularly through conversion of forests and lands for agriculture, infrastructure and other forms of development.

But, to paraphrase President John F. Kennedy, since these problems are made by people, they can also be solved by people. Governments — particularly the U.S. government — have a series of opportunities in the coming months to make meaningful progress. The first opportunity — the 27th conference of parties (COP27) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change — takes place in November in Egypt to continue advancing global action on climate change under the Paris Agreement. The second — the 15th conference of parties (COP15) of the Convention on Biological Diversity — takes place in December in Montreal, where countries must agree on a set of targets and a framework to halt and reverse global nature loss by the end of this decade. Delayed by two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this second meeting could ultimately prove the more pivotal of the two.

While it has received less attention than climate change, global nature loss is a crisis in its own right and on a similar scale. As the Living Planet Report drives home, the rapid loss of biodiversity is a growing threat to all of us. Nature is essential to our health and our future prosperity. Conserving tropical forests and other species-rich ecosystems is also critical to slowing climate change and building resilience to its impacts, as well as preventing the spillover of wildlife-borne diseases that can spark pandemics. In the developing world in particular, nature and its resources are the foundation of food and water security, social stability and economic growth. By undermining this foundation, we not only risk the future of global development but America’s own national and economic security interests. These stark findings have been echoed by both intergovernmental bodies and U.S. national security experts. In a 2021 study, the Council on Strategic Risks concluded that the loss and degradation of nature and natural systems is “arguably the 21st Century’s most underappreciated security threat.” In its 2022 Global Risks Report, the World Economic Forum ranks biodiversity loss as one of the three most severe long-term dangers facing the world. More here.

Honorary contributors to DesPardes: Adil Khan, Ajaz Ahmed, Anwar Abbas, Arif Mirza, Aziz Ahmed, Bawar Tawfik, Dr. Razzak Ladha, Dr. Syed M. Ali, G. R. Baloch, Haseeb Warsi, Hasham Saddique, Jamil Usman, Jawed Ahmed, Ishaq Saqi, Khalid Sharif, Majid Ahmed, Masroor Ali, Md. Ahmed, Md. Najibullah, Mushtaq Siddiqui,, Mustafa Jivanjee, Nusrat Jamshed, Shahbaz Ali, Shahid Hamza, Shahid Nayeem, Shareer Alam, Syed Ali Ammaar Jafrey, Syed Hamza Gilani, Shaheer Alam, Syed Hasan Javed, Syed M. Ali, Tahir Sohail, Tariq Chaudhry, Usman Nazir