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Before the restart of talks on an international agreement to set new goals for saving nature, the United Nations’ biodiversity leader has said that billions of pounds in environmentally damaging government subsidies must be diverted to help nature.

States must study and adjust support for agriculture, fishing, and other industries that are driving the degradation of the natural environment, according to Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, and implement policies that meet human needs while also conserving the planet’s health.According to the OECD, governments in large and emerging economies offer $345 billion (£247 billion) in potentially harmful agricultural subsidies each year. According to a 2019 survey, the public contributes more than $1 million per minute to fertilizer overuse, deforestation to extend agricultural frontiers, and cattle development.

United Nations Urging Policymakers
Image Source: The Guardian

One of the 20 Aichi biodiversity goals governments struggled to achieve was the removal of these subsidies, and Mrema said the international community needed to take it seriously alongside increasing protected areas.

“The human population is growing. That’s a fact. And statistics clearly indicate we need more food and more resources. All this may have an impact on biodiversity,” she said. “There are resources – particularly unsustainable subsidies – which could be redirected into greener operations.

“It’s not just food production. It’s agricultural production. Do we ask ourselves: this shirt I’m buying, is it coming from sustainable cotton? The furniture we use at home, is it coming from sustainable wood?” Mrema added.

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United Nations Urging Policymakers
Image Source: Yahoo Finance

The remarks come as talks on a Paris-style environmental agreement resume on Monday after months of delays caused by the pandemic. Delegations and experts will meet practically six days a week for three hours until June 13 to discuss the scientific and financial aspects of the agreement, according to a demanding schedule. Final talks are set to take place in Kunming, China, in October to hammer out a final agreement on biodiversity goals for this decade.Brazil has been accused of attempting to block prosecutions because of its opposition to online negotiations, which has raised concerns that poor internet access could disadvantage developing countries. According to the Guardian, China’s behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts have allowed Brazil and others to participate in talks on the condition that they do not set a precedent.

Greenpeace China policy advisor Li Shuo said the Chinese government was concerned about the negotiations’ progress and urged Beijing to address any major issues in Kunming later this year.
“The Chinese government worked very hard in the first place to get to host these. They genuinely wanted to project a green image,” Li said. “One thing people really need to understand is that, compared to the climate negotiations, Kunming is more vulnerable to changes imposed by the pandemic. The outcome requires multilateral negotiations from the start.
“In the next few months, it will be really important to identify the few critical issues that will probably not be resolved until the last 48 hours of Kunming. They need to deploy political energy to try to solve those issues,” Li added.
The CEOs of major conservation organizations, such as WWF, Birdlife International, and the World Resources Institute, are encouraging policymakers to agree on a targeted target for nature at Kunming that the public and businesses will support, similar to the Paris agreement’s central goal of keeping global warming well below two degrees.

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There are concerns that the proposed Kunming agreement’s four objectives and 20 priorities, which cover pesticides, plastic waste, invasive species, and protected areas, are too disparate and should be distilled into a single, easily understood goal: achieving a nature-positive environment.

Source: The Guardian

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