Op-Ed by Mr Kosi Latu, Director General, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
14 November 2018, Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt – Everything we do has an impact on our biodiversity – all the different types of life on Earth, from plants to animals to genetic species. It’s our biodiversity that gifts us with our way of life, which many of us take for granted yet if our biodiversity suffers, our human health and livelihoods will suffer as well.
This brings us to the topic of this column, one which was discussed during a High-Level Segment Roundtable at the 14th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP14) hosted by the Government of Egypt in Sharm El-Sheikh - “Investing in Biodiversity for People and Planet – Mainstreaming Biodiversity in the Manufacturing Sector.
Manufacturing, which is at the core of modern economies, impacts heavily upon our biodiversity, something we need to think seriously about. Statistics show that manufacturing accounts for approximately 15% of global GDP and 23% of employment worldwide, but we need to ensure that our biodiversity is protected and used sustainably when goods are manufactured. Without healthy biodiversity, our livelihoods and way of life are at risk.
Although the amount of manufactured products in the Pacific is low, it still has a negative impact on our biodiversity. Conversely, because of the relatively low level of locally manufactured products, we import much more from countries outside the Pacific islands region. This biased flow then results in impacts resulting from the packaging of these products and the disposal of goods at their end-of-life, with most going to landfills.
What is the impact of this on our biodiversity? Poor management of waste contributes significantly to the production of greenhouse gases as well as polluting the atmosphere, water and soil thus impacting on biodiversity and the health and ecosystems on which we depend.
According to the 2013 State of Conservation Oceania Report, nearly 45% of single country endemic species still alive today are at risk of extinction with 23% of Pacific island species assessed for the IUCN Red List classified as threatened.
We must work towards positive change when it comes to the role of manufactured products in our lives for the sake of our biodiversity and ourselves, as we do have options available that can make a difference.
We can do this by transitioning from a linear economy to a circular economy.
By moving to a circular economy we can ensure that all parts of a product are recycled, able to be repaired, have long lasting design, and are reusable as much as possible with very little wastage. At the production level, a circular economy also aims to ensure any manufacturing is done in the best way possible with very little waste, emission or energy leakage.
The role of industry and the private sector is critical in the whole value chain of a circular economy by the development of innovative and environmentally friendly and ecologically viable options.
In our Pacific region, this is possible through fostering the use of locally made and environmentally-friendly alternatives. Manufacturing and processing of natural products provide an opportunity to create incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, green jobs and lower concentrations of pollutants entering the receiving environment. We can support these more, helping to drive local industry where possible.
Our Pacific region has shown success in considering our biodiversity through the approval of container deposit and waste materials recovery regulations in some Pacific countries. The container deposit legislation for soft drink industries, for instance, encourages recycling.
However, we must do more.
There needs to be a paradigm shift in our approach towards biodiversity as set out in the Aichi Targets.
Ten years ago at the CBD COP10, hosted by the Government of Japan, over 190 country parties adopted the CBD Strategic Plan 2011-2020 and committed to achieving 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets to help halt the loss of biodiversity by the year 2020. Strategic Goal A: addressing the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society is particularly relevant to the issue of manufacturing and biodiversity, especially Aichi Targets 3 and 4:
Target 3 calls upon the global community to ensure that “incentives, including subsidies, harmful to biodiversity are eliminated, phased out or reformed in order to minimise or avoid negative impacts, and positive incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity are developed and applied, consistent and in harmony with the Convention and other relevant international obligations, taking into account national socio-economic conditions.”
Target 4 states that by “2020, at the latest, Governments, business and stakeholders at all levels have taken steps to achieve or have implemented plans for sustainable production and consumption and have kept the impacts of the use of natural resources well within safe ecological limits.”
Two years away from 2020, we must ask ourselves, how much have we done to help achieve Aichi Biodiversity Targets 3 and 4? Let’s start making that move towards a circular economy, and while we are at it, let’s support our local industry promoting locally made and environmentally friendly alternatives.
We need biodiversity as biodiversity does not need us. We must move towards the perspective of what benefits nature and biodiversity rather than what solely benefits human beings in the short term.
We still have time. - #CBDCOP14
Mr Latu is attending the High-Level Segment of the 14th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP14) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from 14 – 15 November 2018. It is followed by the CBD COP14 from 17 – 28 November 2018. He presented during the special High-Level Roundtable Discussion on Mainstreaming Biodiversity in the Manufacturing Sector.
For more information on the CBD COP14: www.cbd.int
For more information on the High-Level Roundtable Discussion on Mainstreaming Biodiversity in the Manufacturing sector: https://www.cbd.int/doc/c/b0e4/f326/0c924a7af5b0de8e4ef41845/cop-14-hls-05-en.pdf