One Planet Summit Focuses on Reversing Biodiversity Loss

On January 11, 2021, the One Planet Summit brought together world leaders to specifically discuss biodiversity loss and its relationship to climate change and zoonotic diseases like COVID-19. The event was hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and leaders from Canada, Britain, Germany, Spain, China, Mauritania, Senegal, as well as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the European Central Bank’s Christine Lagarde, the World Bank’s CEO Malpass, and HRH Prince Charles of Wales among many others were in attendance.

The commitments made at the conference include:

  • protecting 30% of the world’s lands and seas by 2030: only 23% of the planet are still wild today
  • overhauling agriculture in terms of land and water use
  • mobilizing public and private funding
  • protection of tropical forests

Acknowledging that the regions of the world that are affected the most by climate change and biodiversity loss are the least responsible for it and that the developed world had immense responsibility to make the change. President Macron stated that they “must show solidarity, rethink our tools and mobilize finance to help them take up the challenge.” They also concurred that knowledge shared by Indigenous communities around the world is integral to successful restoration of species, forests and coastal areas and that these peoples must be included at the decision level.  

The conference agreed to accelerate the use of carbon taxes – and as UN Secretary General Guterres states, “transfer them from the consumer to the polluter.” All groups agree making substantial financial contributions, with the World Bank promising $5 billion by 2025 to projects focusing on health, biodiversity, climate change, agriculture, water and food security in the Sahel, Lake Chad and the Horn of Africa regions. The conference praised and further committed to Africa’s Great Green Wall, which has provided over 2 million jobs across the Sahel. Mr. Guterres stated that over all, by 2030, they are expecting 191 million jobs in the environment sector. All members agree that rethinking our land use practices in terms of water usage, pesticides, overgrazing, deforestation, and pollution is completely necessary, especially with regard to recovering from COVID-19 on a large scale, and preventing potential future zoonotic pandemics from happening.

Sally Barr