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Protecting Biodiversity:Urgent Need for a Nature-Positive Economy and the Role of Indigenous Peoples

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

The 2022 United Nations Biodiversity Conference held in Montreal, Canada, addressed the critical issue of the rapid decline of animals, plants, and insects, with over 1 million species now threatened with extinction. Human activity for food production, infrastructure, energy, and mining accounts for 79% of the impact on threatened species. To reverse this trend, a shift from destructive human activity to a nature-positive economy is required. The World Economic Forum’s New Nature Economy Report II outlines a range of transitions that will reverse nature loss and create new economic opportunities.

The consequences of biodiversity loss are severe and global in scale, with as much as 40% of Earth's land surfaces considered degraded. The destruction of nature is a risk to the global economy, with $44 trillion of economic value generation, over half the world’s total GDP, potentially at risk. Biodiversity loss was ranked as the third most severe threat humanity will face in the next 10 years in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2022.

To slow the loss of biodiversity, the World Economic Forum's report outlines five key transitions in the global economy. These transitions include:

  1. compact built environments

  2. nature-positive built environments

  3. planet-compatible urban utilities

  4. nature as infrastructure

  5. nature-positive connecting infrastructure.

Indigenous Peoples play a crucial role in conserving biodiversity through their traditional knowledge and sustainable practices. The land they inhabit sustains their food systems as well as their ways of life, and they are also crucial for the conservation of biodiversity, with 80% of the planet’s remaining biodiversity located in Indigenous Peoples’ lands. Their centuries-old food systems are anchored in sustainable practices unique to their native ecosystems. Many Indigenous Peoples use farming techniques that nourish the land and conserve biodiversity instead of eradicating it.

Indigenous Peoples are working to conserve biodiversity in different parts of the world. For example, in the mountainous Cordillera region in the northern Philippines, the Kankanaey and Kalinga Indigenous Peoples have been instrumental in protecting the area's rich biodiversity, including the threatened Philippine Eagle and the endangered Philippine Deer. In Ecuador, the Huaorani people have set up a community-managed reserve to protect the forest and its wildlife, including the endangered jaguar. In Brazil, the Kayapó people have been successful in reducing deforestation rates by more than 50% through their efforts to monitor and protect their ancestral lands.

In conclusion, the 2022 United Nations Biodiversity Conference highlighted the pressing need to protect biodiversity and work towards a nature-positive economy. The World Economic Forum's report outlines five key transitions that could significantly slow the loss of biodiversity while creating new economic opportunities and jobs. Indigenous Peoples' traditional knowledge and sustainable practices are crucial for conserving biodiversity, and it is essential that their voices are heard and their knowledge is integrated into efforts to protect biodiversity on a global scale.

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