Tag Archives: biodiversity corridors

The Battle for Biodiversity and Human Rights

From the lush Amazon rainforest to the frigid Arctic Ocean, the world’s landscapes — and all the wildlife they contain — are under threat, and the world needs to set aside a third of all land and sea territories to save them, U.N. experts say.

The call is central to the global agreement being hashed out in December 2022 at the U.N. biodiversity summit in Montreal. If approved, governments would be agreeing to set aside 30% of their land and sea territories for conservation by 2030 – the so-called 30-by-30 goal, doubling the amount of land area and more than tripling the ocean territory currently under conservation…

A June 2022 study in the journal Science found, however, that at least 44% of global land area would be needed to protect areas with a high diversity of species, prevent the loss of intact ecosystems, and optimize the representation of different landscapes and species. But more than 1.8 billion people live in these areas

One of the key tension points that has emerged in the 30-by-30 debate at COP15 is whether the target should be carried out globally or at a national level…It is an important distinction, scientists and negotiators said. Some countries are small, without much land to set aside for nature. Others are vast and still contain a high degree of biodiversity, such as tropical forest nations like Brazil and Indonesia. Were such countries to protect only 30% of their territories, that could actually result in a significant loss of nature…Currently, just under 50% of the Amazon is under some form of official protection or indigenous stewardship, so a national pledge to conserve 30% would represent a significant downgrade.

The other dispute plaguing 30-by-30 is over what should count as protection. Some countries might allow people to live within protected areas or promote indigenous stewardship of these lands. Some might even allow for extractive industries to operate under permits and regulation. In other cases, conservation areas are off limits to everyone. The European Union has proposed allowing activities like logging, mining and fishing to be carried out under conservation management for 20% of protected areas, while 10% would be held under stricter protections.

The idea caused environmental nonprofit Greenpeace to accused the EU last week of trying to water down language on 30-by-30, which the EU denied.

Excerpts from Gloria Dickie, Protecting 30% of the planet to save nature is not as simple as it sounds, Reuters Dec. 14, 2022

Natural Capital and Human Well-Being

What is the contribution of nature to the economy?… The breathable air, drinkable water and tolerable temperatures that allow humans to do everything they do, and the complex ecosystems that maintain them, tend to be taken for granted. Professor Dasgupta’s review on the Economics of Biodiversity does not seek to play on the heartstrings with tales of starving polar bears. Rather, it makes the hard-headed case that services provided by nature are an indispensable input to economic activity. Some of these services are relatively easy to discern: fish stocks, say, in the open ocean. Others are far less visible: such as the complex ecosystems within soil that recycle nutrients, purify water and absorb atmospheric carbon. These are unfamiliar topics for economists, so the review seeks to provide a “grammar” through which they can be analysed.

The report features its own illustrative production function, which includes nature. The environment appears once as a source of flows of extractable resources (like fish or timber). But it also shows up more broadly as a stock of “natural” capital. The inclusion of natural capital enables an analysis of the sustainability of current rates of economic growth. As people produce GDP, they extract resources from nature and dump waste back into it. If this extraction and dumping exceeds nature’s capacity to repair itself, the stock of natural capital shrinks and with it the flow of valuable environmental services. Between 1992 and 2014, according to a report published by the UN, the value of produced capital (such as machines and buildings) roughly doubled and that of human capital (workers and their skills) rose by 13%, while the estimated value of natural capital declined by nearly 40%. The demands humans currently place on nature, in terms of resource extraction and the dumping of harmful waste, are roughly equivalent to the sustainable output of 1.6 Earths (of which, alas, there is only the one)…Indeed, Professor Dasgupta argues that economists should acknowledge that there are in fact limits to growth. As the efficiency with which we make use of Earth’s finite bounty is bounded (by the laws of physics), there is necessarily some maximum sustainable level of GDP…

Professor Dasgupta hints at this problem by appealing to the “sacredness” of nature, in addition to his mathematical models and analytical arguments.

Excerpts from How should economists think about biodiversity?, Economist, Feb. 6, 2021