At the UN Biodiversity Summit, world leaders called for a “peace pact with nature”.

Governments have been told to “make a peace pact with nature” as the world faces its biggest extinction since the loss of the dinosaurs.

Representatives from 193 countries have gathered in Montreal, Canada for the UN Biodiversity Summit COP15 and will spend the next 12 days working towards a common stance on how to halt nature’s decline.

It comes amid warnings that a million species of animals and plants are at risk of extinction over the next few decades as habitats disappear and living conditions deteriorate.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on the first working day of the summit yesterday that the focus must be on reshaping humanity’s relationship with nature, our “life support system”.

“We have waged war on nature,” he said, destroying ecosystems for profit without considering the long-term costs.

“Our land, water and air are poisoned by chemicals and pesticides and clogged with plastic.

“Humanity’s war against nature is ultimately a war against ourselves. I call for a peace pact with nature.”

The aim of the summit is to agree on an international goal of protecting 30 percent of the world’s land and oceans by 2030.

Other goals to be discussed are halting species extinction, tackling unsustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries; tackling excess plastic, pesticides and waste; and beginning the process of restoring degraded habitats.

Talks will be difficult, not least because of problems in agreeing on definitions.

Even the main “30×30” goal of protecting land and ocean poses challenges, as some define protection as conservation, but where land is occupied, the broader view is that protection must not come at the expense of local communities and indigenous peoples.

Ireland is represented by Heritage Minister Malcolm Noonan, who is traveling to Canada next week with a team from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and his department’s Marine Conservation Unit.

“It’s no secret that nature is in crisis. Biodiversity is being lost faster than when dinosaurs went extinct,” he said. “It is absolutely imperative that we reverse the course we have taken and come together as a global community to put protecting and restoring nature at the heart of our decision-making, where it belongs.”

Pádraic Fogarty of the Irish Wildlife Trust, who is present as an observer, said many of the issues under discussion reflected events in Ireland.

“We need to recognize the various causes of biodiversity collapse – notably habitat loss, overexploitation, pollution and invasive alien species, all of which pose significant problems both in Ireland and globally,” he said.

He added that while there are links between climate change and biodiversity loss, the former is not the culprit.

“There is a tendency to think that climate change is driving species extinction in Ireland, but that is not the case,” he said. “The cause is the excessive use of land, water and sea. If we are to get to grips with this, it is important that these distinctions are fully recognized.”

Ireland’s next Biodiversity Plan is due to be published next year and the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss will conclude its work in January.

The assembly has already recommended holding a referendum to include biodiversity protection in the constitution. At the UN Biodiversity Summit, world leaders called for a “peace pact with nature”.

Fry Electronics Team

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