Nature is not just a source of profit for humans, warns the UN

Nature is not just a source of profit for man, warns the UN

The COP15 biodiversity, which will take place in Montreal, must set a framework for protecting nature and its resources at the global level.

Humanity must stop considering nature as a source of short-term profit and based on “values” linking its well-being to the state of our planet, warns the UN in a report published Monday.

Without such a change, the goals of sustainable development and reducing inequalities in the world will remain wishful thinking, underline the UN biodiversity experts, IPBES, in the volume devoted to the values ​​and evaluation of the nature.

“The way we approach economic development is at the heart of the biodiversity crisis.

— Unai Pascual, environmental economist at the University of Bern

The economist is also co-chair of the IPBES session that adopted this report at a meeting of 139 countries in Bonn.

The text aims to integrate different types of values ​​into decisions, continues the expert.

It is published three days after another IPBES report warning that the overexploitation of x27;wildlife threatens the well-being of billions of human beings.

These two reports will feed into the discussions at the COP15 biodiversity, in December in Montreal, which must set a framework for protecting nature and its resources at the global level by 2050.

For this second opus, 80 experts analyzed more than 13,000 scientific studies on the destruction of ecosystems and its reasons and the alternative values ​​that could promote their sustainability.

Drought affected the Lagoa do Peixe (fish lagoon) in Tavares, Rio Grande do Sul state in Brazil last February.

Because men are the main causes of this crisis of life, which is closely intertwined with climate change.

Since 1950, average life expectancy almost doubled, while wealth per person (in the GDP sense) was multiplied by five.

“Nature is what allows us to live. It provides us with food, care, raw materials, oxygen, climate regulation and much more.

— Inger Andersen, head of the UN environment program

But the Earth has physical constraints and, according to scientists, at least six of the nine limits planetary – thresholds that humanity should not exceed to preserve the favorable conditions in which it was able to develop – have already been exceeded.

The Blue Nile is visible as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam reservoir fills near the border between Ethiopia and Sudan, in this satellite image taken on November 6, 2020.

Two previous UN reports, on climate change in 2019 and biodiversity in 2019, had already concluded that only a profound transformation in the way we produce, distribute and consume could help to raise the bar.< /p>

A near impossible task if humanity does not change the way it sees and assesses nature, warn IPBES experts. Because the majority perception still remains that sustainability can only be achieved at the expense of human well-being, while the future good state of our societies requires a healthy nature, capable of regenerating itself.

The report classifies into four main categories, which can be combined, human values ​​in relation to nature, which can be summed up as living from, with, in and like its environment.

Humans live off nature if they focus on exploiting resources to fuel their growth and lifestyle. This is the dominant view, which has recently led some to want to put a price on the services provided by ecosystems (CO2 sequestered by forests, for example).

Activists and residents protest outside one of the construction sections of the Maya train due to the environmental impact and destruction of the jungle caused by the project, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, April 23, 2022. /p>

Living with nature means viewing it as independent of human needs. The stated objective of placing 30% of the surface of the globe under protected area status falls into this category in particular, while joining the first in that it makes it possible, for example, to maintain fish stocks thanks to to non-fishing areas.

For societies, especially indigenous ones, that live in nature, the environment is part of their identity and culture, a union taken even further for those who live like nature.

Major projects, including infrastructure such as the Grand Renaissance Dam that Ethiopia built on the Blue Nile or the Maya train project in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, should be decided in particular taking into account all these values, and not just the costs/benefits, according to the report.

The future text under negotiation for the Montreal conference could change things in this respect, expect members of the IPBES, many of whom are part of both bodies.

We believe that this study on values ​​can help the negotiations, politically speaking, believes Unai Pascual. But there is the worrying feeling that it will not be easy at all, he acknowledges, while many differences remain, according to the negotiators.

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