Without biodiversity, there is no future for human beings: we have the power to act to stem the erosion of biodiversity.
Biodiversity is the term for all life on earth and its natural characteristics. It plays a vital role, because its maintenance depends on the fragile balance of ecosystems that provide the basic services essential for life on earth (production of oxygen from the air, recycling of nutrients, primary production), but also the provisioning services (food, natural materials and fibres, fresh water, bioenergy, etc.) essential for human well-being. Ecosystems also play a regulatory role in the face of natural disasters, epidemics and climate change.
France has a very rich natural heritage with more than 180,000 species recorded in metropolitan France and overseas, i.e. 10% of the known species on the planet. Around 600 new species are discovered in France every year.
However, the erosion and destruction of global biodiversity is now reaching an alarming rate. 60% of wild animals have disappeared over the last 50 years and 1 million species are threatened with extinction.
To address the various threats to biodiversity, France has made the protection of biodiversity and its restoration one of its main environmental priorities.
The UN plays a major role in the protection of biodiversity.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): adopted in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio and bringing together 193 States, it is the reference international convention on biological diversity. The Convention is supplemented by two protocols:
the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Fair and Equitable Sharing of the Benefits Arising out of their Utilization (ABS).
The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES): created by a resolution of the UN General Assembly on 20 December 2010, this group of international experts is mandated to assess the global status of biodiversity and ecosystem services to human societies. France hosted the last plenary session of the IPBES (IPBES-7) in Paris from 29 April to 4 May 2019. This session was notably marked by the adoption of the first Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
Concerned by the continuing loss of biodiversity worldwide, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 22 May as the International Day for Biological Diversity in a resolution adopted in 2001 (A/RES/55/201).
A source of solutions, biodiversity is also one of the "guiding thread" of the UN Agenda 2030 for sustainable development. SDGs 14 and 15 (preservation of terrestrial and marine ecosystems) directly target biodiversity, but the preservation and restoration of biodiversity is actually present as a filigree in all the other objectives.
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has called 2020 a "super year" for nature and biodiversity. While the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the postponement of major meetings on these subjects, 2020 may remain a crucial year to make progress on the climate emergency and halt biodiversity loss. A Summit specifically dedicated to biodiversity is planned during the high-level week of the UN General Assembly on 22 and 23 September 2020.
Since 2018, France has been implementing a Biodiversity Plan, which includes 90 actions and is structured around 6 thematic areas:
1. Reclaiming biodiversity in the territories;
2. Building an economy without pollution and with a low impact on biodiversity;
3. Protecting and restoring nature in all its components;
4. Developing an ambitious European and international roadmap for biodiversity;
5. Knowledge, education and training;
6. Improving the effectiveness of biodiversity policies.
At the 4th Ecological Defence Council in February 2020, Ms Elisabeth Borne, Minister of the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, also recalled France’s ambition in terms of biodiversity. Among the most significant concrete announcements made by President Emmanuel Macron with regard to biodiversity are the following:
Increase to 30% of French territory in protected areas by 2022, including 10% under strong protection;
Making the French Biodiversity Office the environmental police thanks to its 2,800 agents, including more than 1,500 in the field to protect nature.
Putting an end to the reign of plastics, an objective for 2040 made possible thanks to the adoption of the anti-waste law for a circular economy promoted by Mrs. Brune Poirson, Secretary of State to the Minister of Ecological and Solidarity Transition.
France is also fully mobilized at the international level to combat the erosion of biodiversity. Together with Costa Rica, it is co-piloting the Coalition of High Ambition for Nature and People, whose aim is to defend the objective of protecting at least 30% of natural areas by 2030.
On 6 November 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping launched a joint appeal on biodiversity conservation and climate change in Beijing, which reveals the affirmation of strong political leadership for biodiversity.
2020 has also been an essential year to prepare the upcoming events.
But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some international events originally planned for 2020 had to be postponed.This is the case for the COP26 on climate change in Glasgow (Scotland) which will take place from November 1 to 12, 2021 as well as the IUCN World Conservation Congress which will take place from September 3 to 11, 2021 in Marseille.
Nevertheless, on the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement, on December 12, 2020, France, the United Kingdom and the United Nations jointly organized the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 which represents a milestone in the preparation of COP26 in 2021.
And, at the initiative of Emmanuel Macron, France, in cooperation with the United Nations and the World Bank, will organize a One Planet Summit for biodiversity on January 11, 2021 in Paris. This One Planet Summit will bring together Heads of State and Government, leaders of international organizations, business leaders and representatives of civil society and will be an opportunity to coordinate actions to take concrete steps to preserve and restore ecosystems and to initiate profound changes in our economy.
The Permanent Representation of France to the United Nations in New York regularly participates in biodiversity-related events. It also organised a webinar on this theme on Earth Day, 22 April 2020, in partnership with the City of New York.