In Paris, France, world leaders have highlighted the destruction of nature as increasing the risk of future pandemics at the One Planet Summit for Biodiversity, at which they kick-started action on biodiversity ahead of critical environment talks.
Leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres met largely virtually for the event, which was hosted by the French government, UN and World Bank.
Key developments included the announcement by the UK and French governments to earmark 30% of their overseas public climate funding to nature-based solutions, additional financial commitments from Norway & Germany, and the launch of the PREZODE initiative, the first global initiative to help prevent the next pandemic through collaborative research and reducing pressures on biodiversity. More than €11.5 billion in current and new funding was also committed for Africa's Great Green Wall. The summit was also used by the European Commission’s President, Ursula von der Leyen, to reaffirm the Commission’s commitment to put forward a new EU deforestation law this year to limit “the risk of products linked to global deforestation being placed on the European market”, something which WWF has long advocated for and is campaigning for through its #Together4Forests campaign.
WWF welcomes the summit’s outcomes as providing important global momentum on nature ahead of the adoption of a new global biodiversity agreement in Kunming, China, and critical climate talks in Glasgow, UK, both due to take place later this year. At the same time, concern is growing that governments are not acting at pace with the widely acknowledged interconnected biodiversity, climate and health crises.
Marco Lambertini, Director-General of WWF-International, said:
“The initiatives and funding announced at the One Planet Summit provide critical momentum on nature ahead of major global environmental agreements to be made later this year and, crucially, start the process of turning commitments into action. However, a step change in both ambition and urgency is still needed if we are to secure a sustainable future for both people and the planet. Science tells us that our broken relationship with nature is increasing our vulnerability to pandemics, threatening our economies, and undermining our efforts to tackle the climate crisis. Never has the need for urgent action been clearer, but world leaders are yet to demonstrate that they have grasped the scale of the crisis at hand. We urge them to take the necessary steps to deliver a transformative biodiversity agreement in Kunming that secures a nature-positive world this decade while supporting climate action.”
Commenting on the European Commission’s commitment to put forward new legislation this year to tackle EU-driven deforestation, Ester Asin, Director of WWF’s European Policy Office, said:
"We thank President von der Leyen for reaffirming the Commission's plans to tackle imported deforestation at this crucial summit. The proof will be in the pudding - the EU's new deforestation law must be far-reaching, ensuring the protection of the world's forests and other ecosystems, like savannahs and grasslands, and safeguard the human rights of the people that depend on them. We are counting on the Commission to take its role in deforestation seriously and to find a solution that works for people and planet."
WWF also welcomes the leadership shown by more than 50 countries in the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People launched at the One Planet Summit, which is committing to protecting 30% of their lands and water by 2030 and advocating for this goal at a global level. However, we strongly believe that in realising this goal, indigenous peoples and local communities rights must be respected and secured and that they benefit from these conservation efforts. Upholding human rights while protecting intact spaces is critical to reversing biodiversity loss and helping prevent the next pandemic.
However, spatial targets alone will not be sufficient unless all countries raise their ambition and accelerate action to transform the sectors that drive biodiversity loss, most notably the agriculture and land-use sectors, as well as align international finance. WWF therefore welcomes the resolve of governments to remove deforestation from their supply chains, efforts to drive disclosure around nature loss and the finance system, and other initiatives.
WWF points to the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, which launched ahead of the UN Summit on Biodiversity in September and commits endorsers to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030, as a powerful tool for galvanising global ambition and action in the run up to Kunming and beyond. The announcement today that 83 world leaders have now endorsed the pledge - up from 65 at launch - is therefore hugely encouraging. However, words must now be translated into action by all endorsers.
Senior Communications Officer, Deforestation
On biodiversity and agriculture:
Communications Officer, Biodiversity and Agriculture