Sometimes, the struggle in solving environmental problems can be compared to a never-ending group project involving all nations. ST attempts to discuss the recently announced result of the Biodiversity Convention 1992 through a unique and easy-to-understand approach. ......................Ed
December 2020, inside the UN (United Nations) University classroom in Montreal
António Guterres (current UN Secretary-General and Professor of the Convention on Biodiversity at UN University): Now, it’s been almost half a year since you’ve taken the Biodiversity Convention class. Our lecture was created at the 1992 Global Summit in Rio, with your seniors in here. The 150 seniors, including myself, wanted to prevent the depletion of the ozone layer, climate warming, overdevelopment of habitats, and the destruction of species and ecosystems through overfishing and natural predators. We also wanted to create an environment for sustainable development. Once every four years, we publish a report, titled ‘Global Biodiversity Outlook,’ to analyze the results of biodiversity preservation and assess our goals. UN University gave 20 assignments to students through a lecture in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, in 2010. Based on the results, I will consider whether to give you an A or an F. Now, form groups and present your reports.
Donald (the politician): (jumps over a desk) I’ll go first! I am a leader of the group ‘America.’ Biodiversity is a comprehensive reference to the diversity of species on Earth, the ecosystem in which they inhabit, and, furthermore, the genes of life. However, I think scientists are exaggerating the dangers of climate change. We need to dig deeper into what their plot is!
Peter Gleick (the climatologist): Come on! Look at this statement that I’ve received from 250 climatologists. My friend, Stephen Schneider, compared the political attacks on climate scientists to the witch-hunts of McCarthyism. The climate debate is moving on to politics, instead of science.
Donald: It isn’t a big deal. They always use the same words. It’s dangerous! We will vanish on Earth! Don’t be mad. I am alive before your eyes!
Rafael (mayor of Curitiba): You’re the only one living on the planet? Bloody hell! The Amazon River basin and coral reefs in the sea have already reached the tipping point - the moment of critical mass, the restriction, the boiling point. There’s no turning back.
Ruslan (mayor of Irkutsk): The lakes and rivers are plagued by chemical fertilizers. The tide is all over the water! Lake Baikal was also polluted after cutting down all the forests and establishing a factory zone.
António: Let’s calm down. Donald, please adjust the level of your speech. Please introduce the other team first.
Momo (the climatologist): Hello, I’m the presenter of the team ‘Asia.’ If you look at the management of endangered species in the Aichi Convention, on average, species on Earth are nearing extinction. Without conservation efforts over the past decade, the number of birds and mammals that have become extinct is expected to be two to four times higher. I invited Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who was in charge of the lecture at the time, to hear the vivid testimony.
Ban Ki-moon (then Secretary-General in 2010): I’m Ban. Nice to see you all. When I published the Global Biodiversity Outlook in 2010, I said, “We are failing in the fight to protect the ecosystem! If we don’t act quickly, we’ll have a harsh result!” According to the report at the time, all mammals, birds, amphibians, and fish, excluding humans, decreased in population compared to numbers in 1970. There were 60 species of animals that went extinct after 2000. However, it’s been 10 years. The world’s wildlife population has dropped by one-third. We’re still failing to protect the ecosystem.
António: That’s too bad. So, are there any measures to recover from the biodiversity loss, and to ensure sustainable development?
Jeong Eun-kyeong (Commissioner of KDCA): Let me introduce one. The population of wild animals is decreasing, while the diversity of genes and the ecosystem’s service capabilities are decreasing. It’s affecting developing countries as well. I have prepared a measure for this.
Jeong: I’m going to finish the presentation by emphasizing that these measures are necessary not only for climate change, but also for reducing the risk of future pandemics like COVID-19.
António: Thank you for your presentation. I’m asking, just in case, is there any group who did the 20 assignments? At least one?
António: There’s nothing more to listen to. I’m afraid there is no A grade in this class. There is no action to take, just measures.
It’s over. Excuse me. (He leaves the classroom.)
Over the past 50 years, the population of wild animals has shrunk by one-third. The problem becomes more serious as the decrease in species diversity can affect ecosystem diversity and genetic diversity widely. When a species becomes extinct, the entire ecosystem may collapse. The UN Conference on Environmental Development publishes a report titled, ‘Global Biodiversity Outlook,’ every four years to analyze the results of biodiversity conservation and to assess the level of achievement, but biodiversity is declining by a large margin. The 5th report analyzed that none of the goals set by the ‘Aichi Targets’ were achieved fully, and that only six goals, including the management of invasive foreign species and the expansion of protected areas, were achieved in part. The conservation of biodiversity is a group project for the whole world to work together. To stop further biodiversity damage, everyone will have to find and practice ways to address this challenge.
Park Jun-young (Web Editor)