Biodiversity: Seeing the bigger climate change picture

May 28, 2021

Dr Stephanie Wray, Director of Nature Positive, an RSK group company, has spoken to the Foundation for Science and Technology in a podcast ahead of The UN Biodiversity Conference, COP15. The conference will now be held in October in Kunming, China, and will review the achievement and delivery of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020.

In many ways, the postponement of COP15 to just a month before COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, is fitting, as Stephanie urges us to see the bigger picture; to include not just carbon, but also water, waste, biodiversity and social aspects in our sustainability and climate change considerations. COP15 will see plans implemented to not just halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, but also to enable the recovery of natural ecosystems by 2050. This recovery will be vital to the wider sustainability and climate change action plan.

“The mistake that people tend to make in thinking about this [COP15] is that it is a wildlife policy: a particular biodiversity issue that is of interest only to specialists and will be monitored by wildlife experts,” explains Stephanie. “It’s not, it’s a huge cross-cut initiative. So yes, we do need to do things like increase protected areas and strengthen the protection for biodiversity, but it’s much wider than that.”

The recently published Dasgupta Review, Stephanie says, is demonstrative of how biodiversity will affect us all: “It really explains how all of our economies, livelihoods and indeed our well-being, depend on how well we look after nature”. Its worth is heightened by that fact that it isn’t written by a non-governmental organisation, or a special interest group, but by one of the world’s most respected economists.

Businesses have a vital role to play in supporting biodiversity, Stephanie continues, but they cannot be blamed for the shortfall in support to date. Business is part of our wider economic system, which works to governmental policy. Smart businesses are already trying to get ahead of the curve, but they must also be supported by appropriate policies. Furthermore, consumers also have a responsibility to support the right businesses: the ones that demonstrate their sustainability commitments.

So, what can we do to be on target for the first milestone of reversing biodiversity loss by 2030? “We need strong policy on environmental protection and easy-to-implement laws,” Stephanie concludes. “Increasing protected areas is huge: we need bigger, better, more joined-up and properly protected areas of the countryside where nature takes the tiller … , understanding the interrelationships between those different dimensions of sustainability … . Implementing corporate reporting on natural capital will be hugely important because that will drive the message down through businesses that have huge responsibilities but also great innovation and entrepreneurial power to actually make these changes.”

You can listen to the podcast in full on The Foundation for Science and Technology website.