Dreadful feelings of anxiety and sadness grip my mind when I read news about mass deforestation and habitat loss. We are losing species at a rate 1,000 times greater than at any other time in recorded human history, and one million species face extinction. Forests are our greatest defence against climate change, but we are losing the forests in rapid scales.
It is very sad to know that the world has failed to meet a single target to stem the destruction of wildlife and life-sustaining ecosystems in the last decade, according to a devastating new report from the UN on the state of nature. All the 2010 Aichi goals to protect wildlife and ecosystems have been missed. It is a frightening statement of the status quo.
Like you, I strive to fathom how we got to this situation and worry about the future of humanity. In his recent documentary film 'A Life on Our Planet', Sir David Attenborough eloquently explained and presented some heart-rending evidence, which shocked many people around the world.
Human greed and arrogance are too powerful to comprehend that they have been shooting their feet by destroying the nature. Humans have succumbed to endless temptations for far too long, which led them to destructive paths by thinking that nature will only provide. We have ignored the simple fact that nature cannot be just an endless provider.
Global biodiversity is at tipping point. One tipping point would lead to another tipping point, and then another, and finally trapped in vicious cycles that undermines present and the future human well-being. This threat hovers over our heads. Our common future is hanging by a thread, and the stakes are very high.
We can feel sorry for our blunders. But it will not help anyone unless we accept our past mistakes, learn from it, and prepare to make the right decisions that would ensure restoring the Earth's self-recovering capabilities. The sooner we understand this simple message and replenish biodiversity and eco-system, the better for everybody.
This raises an age-old question - are we all together in this journey? My intuition immediately answers the question – 'there is no alternative, we must stand together!' We cannot just carry on doing what we have been doing best – take, make, use, and dispose.
To turn the tide, we must enhance our shared responsibility and global solidarity. That said, 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) took place from October 15-28, 2020, in Kunming, China. The year 2020 has been billed as "super year" to bring nature back from the brink. Although the pledge is a voluntary declaration, but it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.
In the midst of all the chaos, there are still some reasons to feel positive about biodiversity conservation around the world.
For example, China. We usually do not hear about their achievement, but China has significantly progressed in biodiversity conservation in recent years. Out of 30 priority actions set in China's national biodiversity strategy, great progress has been made in 20. Along with the promulgation and revision of their laws, China's philosophy of 'ecological civilisation' has been the backbone of running successful biodiversity campaign.
Same with the African countries, their success stories hardly get any credit. They are on a brink of momentous revolution with the 'Great Green Wall' project. Its aim is to grow an 8,000km of green belt across the entire width of Africa.
By 2030, the wall aims to restore 100 million hectares of currently degraded land, become a natural carbon sink of 250 million tonnes of CO2, and create 10 million jobs. It is an excellent news but how many people know about it?
Being the second most densely populated country on the planet, a small island state Singapore has found an innovative way to blend urban living with the nature unlike any other nation. It is an excellent example of a biophilic (bio is life and philia are friendly towards) city.
Growing number of comparable examples can be drawn around the world such as cities like Oslo, Wellington, Virctoria-Gasteiz in Spain, Milwaukee in the USA etc. It is a unique way to rewild the cities, and a way forward in the face of rapid urbanisation, poverty, and environmental degradation challenges in 21st century.
Viewed from a different perspective, a small country like Netherlands has become an agriculture giant since they committed to sustainable agriculture two decades ago under a rallying call 'twice as much food using half as many resources.' The Dutch has become one of the world's pioneer of agriculture innovation by using less water, small scale in land use, no pesticides in food and cut the uses of antibiotics to the poultry and livestock. Technological solutions have given the Dutch to avoid destruction of eco systems on a much larger scale. If the Dutch can do it then other technologically advanced countries can do it, which will eventually spill over to the least developing countries.
These are just a few good examples. Some countries have achieved great things, but the others falling behind. A collective approach would certainly need to drive change in the fight for a sustainable future. The desire for reversing biodiversity loss has gathered momentum and we must seize it. The World must stay focused on biodiversity restoration. After all, reversing biodiversity loss is about preserving ourselves.
Yousuf Jamil is a UK-based environmentalist.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.