More than 190 states passaged the Cancún-Declaration to adopt policies for biodiversity at the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Cancún (Mexico). The parties convened on 4 December to discuss how to integrate biodiversity into policies and businesses relevant to agriculture.
With the landmark Declaration, countries committed themselves to include sustainable agriculture in their governmental actions and to ban misguided financial incentives. It complements the Aichi Biodiversity Targets that aimed to reduce direct pressure on biodiversity and meant to be achieved by 2020. “For the first time, through the efforts of all parties, we are really speaking meaningfully to one another about the real value of biodiversity to tourism, to agriculture, to forestry, to fisheries – to the very lifeblood of our economies,” said Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
At COP 13, States discussed creating greater diversity of pollinator habitats and a decreasing use of pesticides to help pollinators like bees, butterflies and birds which are increasingly under threat from human activities. To ensure global crop production can meet demand and avoid substantial economic losses the Parties of the Conference should agree to transforming their agricultural practices, says a major report on pollinators being discussed in Cancún. Furthermore, governments and private sector representatives agreed to take action in respect of marine debris that is, according to a report launched at the COP13, negatively affecting more than 800 animal species and causing serious losses to many countries’ economies.
In addition to the Cancún Declaration, various countries announced their own commitments to accelerate action towards wildlife conservation. France agreed to finance projects and initiatives which help protect coral reefs. The Netherlands and eleven other countries announced the “coalition of the willing” to protect pollinators. Germany committed itself to increase its funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation projects to 500 million euros per year.
Besides the passage of the Declaration, six inspirational environmental leaders were being rewarded during the COP13 with the Champions of the Earth award. The annual prize is the United Nations’ highest environmental accolade and recognizes outstanding figures from the public and private sectors and civil society. This year’s laureates are Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, for Policy Leadership, Leyla Acaroglu, founder of Disrupt Design, Eco Innovators and UnSchool, for Science and Innovation, the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN) for Entrepreneurial Vision, Afroz Shah and Berta Cáceres (posthumously) for Inspiration and Action and José Sarukhán Kermez for the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Conference in Cancún will continue until 17 December.
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