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Toward a Global Biodiversity Accord

The 2015 Paris climate agreement was made possible when countries realized it was in their own interest to commit to reducing their carbon dioxide emissions. But a similar understanding of the need for stronger conservation policies has yet to take hold, putting the world's ecosystems increasingly at risk.

SAN JOSE – Governments from around the world are already preparing for the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Kunming, China. This is no ordinary gathering: its goal will be to conclude a new policy framework on biodiversity that works for all member states.

Although the CBD adopted the Aichi Biodiversity Targets in 2010, the international community has been decidedly ineffective in achieving them. Some countries that host vast extensions of rainforests spend up to 100 times more on subsidies that cause deforestation than on aid to prevent it, and the global picture may be even worse in other latitudes.

The next decade will show that we can no longer treat the destruction of nature as “business as usual.” We are quickly approaching environmental and climatic tipping points that could trigger catastrophic feedback loops, making climate change impossible to reverse. A major report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services earlier this year shows that our current activities could lead to the extinction of up to one million species in the next few decades.

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