The following is a statement delivered by WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper at the Biodiversity PreCOP event hosted by the Government of Colombia here on August 30. The virtual event was held under the leadership of President Iván Duque Márquez. This event is a part of the Third Session of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (WG2020-3) negotiating sessions, from 23 August to 3 September 2021. Those participating advocated for the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity, including the High Ambition Coalition, the Global Ocean Alliance, and the Leader’s Pledge for Nature.

Watch the full recording of meeting HERE. (Dr. Samper’s intervention is at time code 1:43:47)

Dr. Samper’s statement included WCS’s plan to support the implementation of the post-2020 framework across more than 50 countries.

Said Samper:

“The world is facing three major inter-related crises today: the pandemic, climate change and the loss of biodiversity. They all stem from the same root cause: our broken relationship with nature.

“As stated by the Secretary General of the United Nations last December: ‘Humanity is waging a war on nature. This is suicidal. Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. It must be the top priority of everyone, everywhere.’

“We need to recognize that as humans we are part of nature, and that we depend on nature for our well-being. Our decisions and actions will also determine the future of millions of species with which we share this blue and green planet.

“The post-2020 framework of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity gives us an opportunity to reset our relationship with nature, to work together toward a future where people can live in harmony with nature.

“We have seen the power of having a clear, unifying goal to tackle climate change. Governments, companies and civil society have embraced the goal to become carbon neutral by 2050, as a way to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. 

“But we are lacking a parallel global goal for nature. A unifying goal that can guide our work and collective action, a goal that will allow us to measure progress as it relates to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

“Today, I bring a proposal from a group of global environmental and business organizations to adopt a nature positive goal as part of the post-2020 framework.

It would have three measurable temporal objectives:

Zero Net Loss of Nature from 2020;

Net Positive by 2030; and

Full Recovery by 2050.

“The baseline of 2020 serves as a reference for zero net nature loss to ensure that we focus on retention of large intact areas as well as all remaining natural ecosystem fragments.

“The year 2030 is a milestone for improvement in the abundance, diversity and resilience of species and of ecosystems.

“The 2050 objective requires continued retention and restoration until there are sufficient functioning ecosystems to safeguard the stability and resilience of the Earth system.

“Important steps to succeed in being nature-positive by 2030 include preventing the extinction of all known threatened species, and protecting and conserving at least 30 percent of the world’s land, sea and freshwater systems.

“It would also include the restoration of ecosystems, including the Bonn Challenge’s global goal of bringing 350 million hectares of degraded and deforested landscapes into restoration by 2030.

“To realize the nature-positive goal also requires a fundamental shift to more sustainable production and consumption patterns on the rest of landscape and seascape.

“Nature-positive is also foundational to both human health and economic objectives More than half of global gross domestic product (GDP) is moderately or highly dependent on nature, putting biodiversity loss among the top five risks to the global economy.

“Millions of Indigenous Peoples and local communities depend on nature for their subsistence and well-being, and are also guardians of nature in some of the most important places in the planet.

“We recognize that adopting and implementing a successful post-2020 framework will require greater ambition and financial support, as well as innovative mechanisms and partnerships.

“We recognize that as a global conservation organization we have a role to play. I am pleased to announce that the Wildlife Conservation Society plans to invest more than one billion dollars between now and 2030 to support the implementation of the post-2020 framework across more than 50 countries, focusing on four priorities:

“First, we will support the implementation of the goal to protect and conserve at least 30 percent of land and sea, focusing on ecosystems with high integrity and working closely with Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

“Second, we will support the conservation of intact forests and natural ecosystems that provide nature-based solutions to climate change.

“Third, we will support the implementation of a One Health approach, recognizing the linkages between human health, ecosystem health and wildlife health. 

“Fourth, we will support education as a way to build capacity and to raise awareness and engagement by every one of us as guardians of this planet.

“Excellencies, delegates, colleagues. Fifty years after Stockholm and thirty years after the Rio Earth Summit, humanity is now forced to confront whether we are at risk of destabilizing the entire earth system due to our failure to address the loss of nature that we have caused.

“It is time for us to work together to build a strong and ambitious post-2020 framework, and to build a carbon neutral, nature positive and more equitable world, where humans will live in harmony with nature.”