The importance of biodiversity

The planet is experiencing a dangerous decline in nature as a result of human activity. It is experiencing its largest loss of life since the dinosaurs. One million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades.

“From the air we breathe and the food we eat, to the energy that fuels us and the medicines that heal us, our lives are wholly dependent on healthy ecosystems,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for International Day for Biological Diversity, concluding that we must end this war on nature.

The loss of biodiversity is the result of habitat degradation, skyrocketing pollution, and the worsening climate crisis. It has serious consequences for life on earth. Natural ecosystems play an important role in regulating climate and they help to sequester and store carbon. However, the loss of forest, the draining of wetlands and other environmental degradation has contributed significantly to climate change.

The effects of climate change on biodiversity are already visible, with many animal species already forced to change migration patterns or plants struggling to adapt to changes in temperature. In the ocean, biologists are witnessing another tragedy as coral reefs, which provide food and shelter for over 7,000 other species, are dying because of the warming and acidification of the ocean.

At the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal, Canada in December 2022 the international community agreed a new set of goals to guide global action to halt and reverse nature loss. Clear targets to address overexploitation, pollution, fragmentation and unsustainable agricultural practices were established, as well as a plan that safeguards the rights of indigenous peoples and recognizes their contributions as stewards of nature. The conference also considered how to align financial flows with nature to drive finances toward sustainable investments and away from environmentally harmful ones.

Achieving all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will ultimately depend on healthy ecosystems and biodiversity. The health of the planet ultimately underpins people’s health and well-being.