Read here thoughts of our Convoco thinkers on the topic of: Biodiversity

Why is the issue of biodiversity so important today?

We rely on our biological systems and biodiversity for everything: for our food, our air, our water, our medicine, … everything that sustains humanity

An intact natural environment is essential for a successful economy and a supporting pillar of our social system. Various studies and surveys at global level show that the consequences of a decline in biodiversity are just as significant as those of rising temperatures. (C! Artikel)

Biodiversity is of crucial relevance for the outbreak of pandemics … Viruses do not enter our cities randomly from the wilderness. Rather, it is the interaction of humans with nature that creates the ideal conditions for certain types of viruses to spread. Protecting nature therefore also means protecting our health and economic system. (C! Artikel)

Biodiversity is what sustains us all. If there is no biodiversity there is no life. And there is a real urgency because we have more and more evidence that biodiversity is severely affected, much more than many of our models were previously saying. We really are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction. (Podcast)

Why is the loss of biodiversity so difficult to counteract?

Raji Jayaraman: What can be done to curb biodiversity loss? In order to answer that question, you need to be able to answer the question: What causes biodiversity loss? But there’s a massive list of causes, including pollution, land use, and water use. It’s a very complex system. That means that there’s no easy answer to how we can tackle biodiversity in the way that, in principle, there’s an easy answer to what it takes to tackle climate change: lowering emissions or increasing sequestration of carbon. (Podcast)

Biodiversity is difficult to model because it is an extremely complex biological problem. And if you can’t model something, it’s very hard to know how to tackle it. (Podcast)

Economists have two main sets of instruments to counteract negative externalities: price policy and quantity regulation. In the context of climate change, price policy basically means carbon taxes, and quantity regulation operates through various types of markets such as cap and trade [emissions trading] or carbon offsets … But these instruments are hard to imagine in the context of biodiversity loss. (Podcast)

Jörg Rocholl: The climate crisis can be captured by two indicators: CO2 emissions (or more broadly greenhouse gas emissions) and rising temperatures. A quantification of biodiversity is more difficult because it requires analysing entire ecosystems with millions of plants and animals. (C! Artikel)

There is currently no internationally comparable, quantifiable information on the local state of biodiversity. But this information is a fundamental prerequisite for corporate reporting with regard to biodiversity. (C! Artikel)

How can we hold private businesses accountable?

Naming and shaming companies is step one. Incentivizing the industry is step two. And if all of that fails, then, I am afraid. we need legislation and taxation. But we’re a long way away from that since nobody really knows how to put a number on things. (Podcast)

If you don’t have an exact science, you need great storytellers because emotions move people more than anything else. Think of Sir David Attenborough, he’s done more for people’s understanding of this planet than anybody else. If we keep telling these stories, people will react. (Podcast)

Jörg Rocholl: Given the close interconnection between the climate crisis and declining biodiversity, a pricing mechanism similar to that of CO2 would be appropriate with regards to the loss of nature, at least initially. In the longer term, however, a separate mechanism for biodiversity could have a greater impact, as it would make the particular challenge of biodiversity more visible. (C! Artikel)

Measures such as greater consideration in corporate reporting for businesses’ use of forests, land, water, and seaways could provide important initial impetus … Companies should disclose how their economic activities affect biodiversity. This disclosure requires a consensus on the harmful activities and their consequences. (C! Artikel)

We need closer cooperation between climate science, economics and biodiversity research … Concrete questions must include which economic actions specifically are reducing biodiversity and how actors can be held more accountable for its harmful consequences. (C! Artikel)

How can we protect biodiversity?

Christph Henkel:  If you take your hands off nature, it has an incredible capacity to heal itself. Things can reset themselves very quickly. Are they going to be the same way as they were before? Probably not. But taking natural spaces out of use is really the only thing we can do. (Podcast)

An uncomfortable truth is that intense agriculture is part of the solution because every time you make agriculture more efficient for the same amount of people, you can give more land back to nature, especially land which is not very productive. If we then connect these retired land spaces with corridors, then nature really has a chance to heal itself. (Podcast)

Philipp H. Pattberg: In order to achieve biodiversity protection, we need to reduce the pressure on the little remaining wilderness that’s still out there. To do that we have to bring more people together in smaller spaces for the sake of efficiency. The city is therefore a very important lever for change because cities can be very efficient ways to house humans. (Podcast)

Raji Jayaraman: For decades now we didn’t manage to come to any kind of agreement regarding stemming biodiversity loss. But at COP-15 Montreal, 190 countries agreed in principle – the devil will be in the details – to protect 30% of the sea and 30% of all land. That’s a huge and potentially transformational step. Let’s celebrate that as a starting point. (Podcast)

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