Lula’s victory in Brazil is a relief but it won’t solve the problem of globalised greed | The Secret Negotiator
We are a month away from Cop15 and money is on my mind. The election of President Lula da Silva in Brazil is good news for the chances of success in Montreal. But optimism must always consider reality- huge financial resources are needed to halt the destruction of the planet’s ecosystems, and we are still very far from a credible plan for raising the necessary funds.
Across the globe, almost without exception, nature is worth more dead than alive. That is the unfortunate truth. There is not yet a mechanism for tilting the playing field in favour of biodiversity and the climate, something I am sure will come up frequently at Cop27, too. To change that, we need to tackle two key issues- rural poverty and globalised greed.
Rural poverty is, in many ways, the easier problem to fix. Wildlife conservation is often most successful where there is a financial incentive for communities to protect it. We need ways to support this, without asking the poorest to bear the cost.
In Brazil, the short-term economic incentives to clear trees for agriculture have not disappeared with the election of Lula. That is true of Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia – everywhere – and the world will need to come together to tip the balance in favour of nature. There are no profits on a dead planet, as even the international financial sector belatedly seems to have realised.
The ‘natural capital’ case for protecting nature is clear and strong. The problem, however, is one of cashflow- people are poor and hungry now – they can’t wait for the huge gains to accrue in the long term. That is why I think the proposal by African countries for a 1% retail levy on all products that rely on nature is worthy of serious consideration at Cop15.
Protecting ecosystems is expensive. Choosing not to drain wetlands or hunt wildlife frequently comes at a cost to communities living alongside them while benefiting the rest of humanity. Paying people to protect ecosystems would be recognition of how these communities look after a global good on behalf of us all, and the money would come directly from consumers. Without a secure and steady flow of money, we are in danger of agreeing a list of targets in December, heading home for the Christmas holidays, then finding that we cannot afford to implement them.
The second, more complicated issue is that of globalised greed. Overconsumption of the world’s resources is a major driver of biodiversity loss, and not all humans are equally to blame. Citizens in rich, western countries are living lives that planet Earth cannot sustain, the elites of all countries are emulating these unsustainable lifestyles, and we are collectively suffering the consequences of this avarice.
So far, mentions of overconsumption have been watered down or challenged in UN talks. But if we are to reach a final agreement that really tackles the drivers of biodiversity loss, it must include references to the unsustainable use of nature by the world’s rich. Scrutiny of beef companies with links to deforestation or firms that use palm oil from destroyed orangutan habitat have produced real-world changes. This must now happen at a global level.
Money alone will not solve all the problems with implementing this agreement, but without money hardly any will be solved. We are still pitifully short of the multi-billion dollar package we really need to make this decade’s global biodiversity framework a success, and broken funding promises by developed countries in UN climate talks have caused widespread mistrust. It is time for that to change.
In a series of dispatches ahead of the Cop15 UN biodiversity conference in Montreal in December, we will be hearing from a secret negotiator who is from a developing country involved in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework negotiations.
(News Source -Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Times Of Nation staff and is published from a www.theguardian.com feed.)
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