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9 December, 2022

According to some scientists, we are living through a mass extinction event. The extent of biodiversity loss is shocking; almost 30% of mammals at risk of extinction, and wildlife populations dropping  69% in the last 40 years (and by a horrifying 94% in South America). Unlike previous extinction events, this one is driven by human activity. But there is a silver lining: it means we can do something about it.

Enter COP15. Not as well-known as the COP that preceded it, but just as important, COP 15 is a UN conference dedicated to biological diversity, which hopes to be the “Paris moment for nature”. Over the next two weeks representatives from 196 nations will gather to adopt a global framework to halt and reverse biodiversity loss in the next decade.

The restoration of biodiversity is hugely important for a multitude of reasons, including addressing climate change. Biodiversity and the climate are inherently interconnected – climate change is a key driver of biodiversity loss, but the degradation of ecosystems means nature is less able to regulate the climate. We need to protect biodiversity for the benefit of the climate, but we also need to get a handle on the climate to protect biodiversity.

So why not integrate the issue of biodiversity into the more widely known UN Climate Change Conference (COP27, most recently)? Well, the goal of halting biodiversity loss in the next decade is ambitious, comes with its own set of challenges and requires specific expertise to achieve. And while we might not be there yet, the more attention that it is given, the better, and we hope over time a separate conference helps achieve that. We think the merits of separate conferences for biodiversity and climate change are clear, but the connection should not be overlooked.

So don’t let this event pass you by. Pay close attention to what’s achieved at COP15 in the run up to Christmas – the future of biodiversity, and the Earth, may depend on it.

By Lucy Bell

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