A Nobel Peace Prize for the protectors of nature

The loss of biodiversity, and of the contributions that nature makes to humanity, is advancing at an unprecedented rate. The extinction of species is accelerates, with serious consequences for people’s health, food and water security and poverty reduction.

We have to show solidarity with him million of species of animals and plants that today are threatened with extinction. Nature is life insurance for the 7.8 billion people who inhabit the Earth. Furthermore, its protection implies defending an irreplaceable economic resource. According to a report Published in January 2020 by the World Economic Forum, more than half of global GDP depends on “natural services” such as pollination, water purification and disease control. So preserving biodiversity and ecosystems gives us security against a wide variety of threats, from food and water crises to violent conflict over resource scarcity.

The years 2021 and 2022 will be milestones in the international effort to preserve and restore nature. The International Union for Conservation of Nature celebrates every four years a World Conservation Congress, whose last edition (in Marseille last month) laid the foundations for the United Nations Conference on Biological Diversity which will take place in two parts (first in October and then in April) in Kunming, China. At the Conference, representatives from around the world are expected to adopt an ambitious new framework for the salvation of nature.

Unfortunately, public opinion still does not know or fully understand the degradation of nature, its dire consequences for people around the world and the risks it poses to peace and security. Climate change has been rightly defined as the great challenge of our time; by comparison, the loss of biodiversity is not a widely talked about problem, despite the urgent and existential threat it also poses to society.

But in reality, climate change and loss of biodiversity are inseparable. Both are accelerating and have already reached levels unheard of in human history. We are at a generational crossroads, and it is the best opportunity to address both issues as part of an interconnected crisis. A successful response demands a better scientific understanding of the problem by citizens and governments, which guarantees an empirical stewardship of nature and allows us to implement the profound changes necessary to ensure a more sustainable and peaceful future for nature. people and the planet.

When the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its scientific work in 2007, it was instrumental in bringing global warming to the fore in the global policy agenda. From then on, climate change deniers found it increasingly difficult to gain credibility in public debates and in policy-making circles. Now we need to generate those same changes in the case of biodiversity.

That is why we have nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize (whose winner will be announced on October 8) to the Intergovernmental Scientific-Normative Platform on Biological Diversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

IPBES has been at the forefront of an effort to bring together the best available research and data regarding biodiversity loss and its consequences for humanity. Inspired by the IPCC, the Platform became the main source of scientific data on biodiversity, strengthening the international knowledge base and providing authorities with the necessary information to make better decisions and set more ambitious objectives in the area of ​​conservation of nature.

Like the IPCC, the work of IPBES covers a wide variety of issues that directly influence the lives and livelihoods of billions of people. Among other things, it makes visible the threats against pollination agents and food security, documents trends in land degradation and assesses the biodiversity situation of each region of the world, thereby helping to reduce the risk of species extinction .

Awarding the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize to IPBES sends a clear message about the value of nature, about our confidence in science, and about the need to pay attention to a variety of sources of knowledge. It implies reinforcing the fight against the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems at a critical moment; give encouragement to scientists around the world who are working tirelessly on these issues; and collaborate with the fight against climate change.

This is the best time to clearly explain to the world the state of emergency that nature is in and the fact that science has the necessary solutions to deal with it.

* Article originally published in Project Syndicate.

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A Nobel Peace Prize for the protectors of nature

Hank Gilbert