Natural Capital Ireland has written to the Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan, calling on him to highlight the benefits of using the natural capital approach to properly value all aspects of nature, during the crucial negotiations on the Global Biodiversity Framework at the forthcoming COP15 talks.
Call for Natural Capital to be included in Global Biodiversity Framework
From December 6-19, 2022, delegations from the world’s governments will meet at the UN Biodiversity Summit in Montreal, Canada, to discuss the ongoing global biodiversity crisis and work to agree a global framework for the conservation and wise use of nature and our living natural resources. This meeting, titled the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), represents a vital opportunity to address the causes and impacts of the degradation of the natural world.
In the thirty years since the Convention came into effect, despite various conservation successes and increased public and political engagement, the loss of biodiversity has accelerated in Ireland and across much of the world. Reports have repeatedly highlighted that one of the major causes of biodiversity loss is the failure of mainstream economics and policy processes to fully account for biodiversity and its multiple benefits and values to human well-being. The negotiations for a new international framework for nature conservation at COP15 seek to tackle this and other issues through transformative action by governments and all of society.
The draft of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) implicitly recognises the importance of accounting for biodiversity, ecosystem services and their broad benefits and values to society, across all levels of national decision making. In particular, references to the importance of tackling unsustainable production and consumption patterns, the urgent need for whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches.
The importance of coherent science-based decision making and legislation, and the use of nature-based solutions for increasing the resilience of human and natural systems to the impacts of climate change, indicate multiple entry points for bringing natural capital approaches into the development of global and national strategies for biodiversity.
However, Natural Capital Ireland (NCI) believes that links to these approaches should be made much more explicit within the text of the Framework, in order to better encourage their consideration and uptake by governments and other stakeholders in their efforts to more fully understand the various causes and implications of biodiversity loss, and identify the most appropriate options for reversing biodiversity loss and securing nature’s contribution to people.
NCI advocates the inclusion of the UN’s System of Environmental Economic Accounting-Ecosystem Assessment (SEEA-EA, a framework for organising information and evidence on habitats, landscapes and ecosystem services) within the text of the GBF. The SEEA-EA is a very valuable tool for linking the status and trends in biodiversity and natural capital to economic and other human activity.
The SEEA-EA and related approaches could be utilised in delivering on the proposed 2050 goals and measurable 2030 targets of the GBF; for example, the use of natural capital accounts during planning processes would enable countries to properly assess, identify and understand the value of nature across both geographic and thematic areas. The use of such accounts will facilitate informed decision making and avoid unintended negative consequences around any planning process.
NCI calls upon the Irish Government and its European and global partners to get agreement on the inclusion of natural capital approaches, and the UN SEEA-EA in particular, into the text of the GBF during negotiations.
The inclusion of reference to the UN SEEA-EA would be relevant to several of the proposed targets under the draft GBF, particularly those relating to “Meeting people’s needs through sustainable use and benefit sharing” (Targets 9 to 13), and “Tools and solutions for implementation and mainstreaming” (Targets 14 to 22)
Reference to the use of natural capital approaches would be beneficial in the context of agreements on the enabling conditions for the GBF (Section I) and responsibility and transparency (Section J).
NCI also notes that the draft CBD COP15 decisions on Resource Mobilisation (Agenda Item 12A) states the need to recognise the importance of biodiversity mainstreaming, and specifically ‘for economic and financial markets to more appropriately value and protect natural capital’. This further highlights the importance of including the natural capital approach in the final GBF.
Natural capital approaches offer an important means to support policy and decision-making with a much wider range of analysis/data than that offered by conventional approaches, because it builds a much broader range of environmental, social and cultural details, costs and benefits into the policy process. It is also valuable because it can be used to continuously monitor the full cost-benefit performance of policy options into the future.
NCI believes this approach can illustrate the importance of nature conservation to a far wider audience and help convince public and policy makers of the imperative, in this the UN’s International Decade on Restoration, to use science to restore our landscapes, and in so doing enable humanity along with nature to flourish.
The natural capital approach also helps to clarify the relationship between restoring biodiversity and addressing the other great crisis of our time, the climate crisis, by enabling landscapes and seascapes that sequester carbon to recover that vital capacity while also enhancing resilience and adaptation to the impacts of climate change, which are increasingly prevalent and costly to society.
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