Uniting for Biodiversity
By Rob Floyd
At the end of this month, September 2020, the President of the UN General Assembly will convene a summit on biodiversity in New York.
Conducted at the level of Heads of State and Government, the Summit’s theme is “urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development.” https://www.un.org/pga/74/united-nations-summit-on-biodiversity/
This year’s megafires in Australia and the United States and other natural disasters, should draw deserving attention to the UN Biodiversity Summit.
In Australia, biodiversity is back on the radar as a public issue.
The finding that the 2019-2020 bushfires killed or displaced nearly three billion native animals has horrified many Australians.
The projections that an iconic species like the koala may become extinct by 2050 are similarly shocking.
The science of biodiversity is complex.
There are many contributing factors; climate change, land-use change, habitat fragmentation and degradation, invasive species and multiple overlapping pressures on the same ecosystems.
Additional pressures include altered fire regimes, overuse of species and habitats, ocean acidification and pollution in our coastal and marine environments.
All of these factors require complex, multi-layered responses.
Before the bushfires, in our 2019 statement Our Vision for a Just Australia the UCA noted that Australia was failing to protect our biodiversity, and that our natural environmental is in a state of decline.
For the record, we called on Australian Governments to provide more natural and marine protected areas, better land care and water management and improved environmental laws.
In a relatively rich country like Australia we could, given the political will, regulate better to protect our unique environmental heritage.
As yet we haven’t, and the rest of the world isn’t doing that well either.
The UN Biodiversity Summit will hear that our biodiversity is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history, with growing impacts on people and our planet.
Recent assessments have concluded that species extinction rates are tens to hundreds of times higher now than historical averages.
The value of this Summit, will be in the momentum it creates to slow, halt and reverse these rates.
As Christians globally, including many across the Uniting Church, celebrate a Season of Creation, let us think carefully and prayerfully about how we play our part.
What can we do to create in a world where all living organisms can flourish and God’s creation is preserved in all its diversity?