22.05.2020

The link between biodiversity, food security, and health

Photos: Miguel Schmitter, Julie Steinen, Collage: ZUG

Until recently, the International Day for Biological Diversity was only one of many commemoration days. This year, however, the global COVID 19 pandemic is making drastically visible the effects the destruction of ecosystems can have on human health - and the value the conservation of biodiversity can offer.

The link between these topics is easily explained: Protected areas, nature reserves, and other forms of territorial protection are natural “protective barriers” between humans and animals, minimizing the risk of transmission of pathogens. Read more about this topic in the article Intact ecosystems vital to prevent the spread of pandemics.

From Tanzania via India to Ukraine: The IKI supports 19 new projects related to biodiversity

The International Climate Initiative (IKI) has been addressing the conservation of biodiversity and, thus, of ecosystems since its inception in 2008. In 2019, the IKI approved 19 new projects related to biodiversity and contributed a total amount of 140 million Euros to fund the implementation of these projects. The topics covered range from the protection of primary forests in Ukraine to ecosystem-based adaptation measures for integrated coastal and marine zone management in Peru and the sustainable management of resources provided by rivers in the northeastern Himalayas.

All these projects have a clear goal: They want to address the causes of biodiversity loss and contribute to the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of nature reserves and ecosystems. In this way, all ecosystem services, i.e., the “services” provided by nature and used by humans for their lives, will be secured in the long term. However, the projects not only support the sustainable use of natural resources but also make a contribution to strengthen climate resilience and human health.

Review of lost species highlights an urgent need for action

Changes in land and sea use, the direct exploitation of animal and plant species, environmental pollution, and climate change are the main drivers of biodiversity loss. Here is where the IKI comes in with its funding of projects dedicated to the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity.

A review on the loss of biodiversity and ecosystems highlights how urgent the need for action is: Man is responsible for the loss of around one million animal and plant species on Earth. This was the result of the 2019 report on the state of nature presented by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). According to this report, the destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems has reached a level that threatens our well-being at least as much as human-made climate change.

The conservation of biodiversity needs an ambitious political framework

It is and will remain of utmost importance that the member states adopt an ambitious global framework for biodiversity for the time after 2020 at the forthcoming 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This political framework must promote transformative change and address the drivers of biodiversity loss. Originally scheduled to take place in October 2020, the CBD COP was postponed due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Background: The International Day of Biodiversity

Since 2001, 22 May has been celebrated as International Day for Biological Diversity. This date was chosen to recall 22 May 1992, when the international community officially adopted the text of the Convention on Biological Diversity during the Conference of the Parties in Rio de Janeiro.

Watch here the message from German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze on Biodiversity Day 2020!