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Nature Champions Summit Calls for Putting Nature at the Center of Sustainable Development Agenda

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On April 30, 2019, The Nature Champions Summit kicked off a series of multilateral meetings focused on building momentum towards 2020, when leaders representing 190 countries will come together with non-government actors for the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to adopt a new framework for global biodiversity governance.

  • The Call to Action issued by the Nature Champions Summit highlights interlinkages among global challenges such as biodiversity loss and climate change, in the context of sustainable development, and calls for a global mobilization, including a commitment to “put nature first” in all decisions.
  • The Nature Champions Summit was the first in a series of high-profile events leading up to CBD COP 15 in 2020, which is expected to adopt a new framework for global biodiversity governance.
  • Such events include the recently concluded G7 Environment Ministers’ Meeting in France and the upcoming Trondheim Biodiversity Conference, to be held in July 2019 in Norway.
The Nature Champions Summit was convened by the Government of Canada from 24-25 April 2019, in Montreal, Canada. The Summit brought together environment ministers, government officials, and representatives of UN agencies, civil society organizations, indigenous peoples and local communities, and business. Summit participants exchanged views on challenges and opportunities for nature conservation and sustainable use of its components. Stressing the importance of ambition, integration, and partnerships, discussions focused in particular on strengthening synergies with other pressing global concerns, to address biodiversity loss and climate change, and advance implementation of the SDGs. They also addressed the need for designing and using innovative financing mechanisms and for raising ambition, in particular with regard to the negotiation and adoption of a new global biodiversity framework at CBD COP 15, to be held in October 2020 in Kunming, China.

Even in the midst of this crisis, we can move from crisis management to transformative change.

The Call to Action resulting from the Summit highlights interlinkages among global challenges such as biodiversity loss and climate change, in the context of sustainable development, and calls for a global mobilization, including a commitment to “put nature first” in all decisions. In particular, the Nature Champions commit to:

  • recognize the fundamental link between nature, a stable climate, human well-being, and sustainable development for all;
  • unite nature conservation objectives with addressing climate change and developing nature-based solutions that are effective for both;
  • promote an ambitious set of new targets for the CBD that has clear and measurable objectives for 2030 and effectively enables the world to reach the 2050 Vision of Living in Harmony with Nature;
  • widen the participation of the CBD Strategic Plan beyond governments to include commitments and actions by a wide range of actors;
  • address nature’s needs by increasing the proportion of land and ocean conserved around the world and by improving management and restoration;
  • address the key drivers of nature loss by enhancing concrete action on habitat loss and deforestation, pollution, and supply and value chain management;
  • embrace nature-based decision making in all key political, economic, cultural, and social decisions;
  • increase investment in nature conservation and leverage existing commitments to mobilize new resources; and
  • recognize and enhance the role of local authorities, indigenous peoples, local communities, women and youth in the protection of nature.

“I do not need to tell you that we are the last generation that can act for the climate and biodiversity. Those two topics are closely linked. You cannot address one without the other,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told delegates. “Climate change is threatening nature, our houses and our ways of life. When we destroy our natural ecosystems this speeds up the process.”

“We need to build a high-ambition coalition of nature champions, to accelerate the protection of nature, to promote new solutions and to inspire further integrated actions for global nature protection,” Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna said. “We need to stop talking about climate in the climate world, nature in the nature world, oceans in the oceans world, circular economy in the circular economy world, Sustainable Development Goals in the Sustainable Development Goals world. These are all the same thing,” she added.

CBD Executive Secretary Cristiana Pașca Palmer welcomed the Summit, and commended Canada for its leadership on environmental matters. “This is a critical Conference, but it is not a stand-alone meeting but rather part of a broader agenda and process,” she said. “And these meetings must be points for action! Even in the midst of this crisis, we can move from crisis management to transformative change,” Pașca Palmer added.

Along with Uganda, Canada currently serves as Co-Chair of the CBD intersessional process leading to the adoption of a new international biodiversity framework. The Nature Champions Summit was the first in a series of high-profile events leading up to CBD COP 15 in 2020, including the recently concluded G7 Environment Ministers’ Meeting in France, the Trondheim Biodiversity Conference to be held in July 2019 in Norway, the 2020 IUCN World Conservation Congress in France, and the Biodiversity Summit under the auspices of the UN General Assembly in September 2020 in New York, US.

Source: International Institute for Sustainable Development

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