Saving wildlife requires a new approach

 

 

Good afternoon and thank you to the African Leadership University and Fred Swaniker for the opportunity to be a part of this session, which honors the memory and generosity of Jennifer Oppenheimer.

 

I’m feeling quite refreshed today, having spent the last five days in the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique. It’s always wonderful to be in the field and feel the sand between your toes, especially as my natural habitat over the past decade has been the inside of conference rooms.

 

 

As most of you probably know, the coming year will be a big one on the international calendar of global conferences and summits, especially for biodiversity and climate change. It’s a good time for us to briefly reflect on where we have come from, where we are today, and where we are going.

 

 

The UN Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm in 1972, marked the start of a long chain of global initiatives to protect our environment, including our biodiversity. Believe it or not, I was there in 1972, not at the Conference but as a young boy visiting my Swedish grandparents!

 

 

There have been a series of defining moments for biodiversity since then, including the adoption of the UN World Charter for Nature in 1982, and many biodiversity-related conventions since 1973, most notably the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992. This Convention has since agreed on global biodiversity targets for 2010, and for 2020, and is now in the process of negotiating a new biodiversity framework for 2030, to be adopted in Kunming, China in October next year.

 

    Given this flurry of international activity, biodiversity must be in good shape, yes? No!

 

We did not meet the 2010 biodiversity target, and with the exception of achieving the target on the geographic area to be covered by protected areas, the 2020 targets will not be met.

 

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2020