Over the past seven years, I have lived in the most biodiverse country on the planet. This has allowed me to enrich the palette of flavors and colors of my life.
A visit to the street market is enough to appreciate the variety of fruits that come from the different altitudinal gradients, offering unlimited flavors, textures, and colors. I have over seven different types of potatoes to choose for lunch, which can also be paired with fresh fish that come from the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific Ocean, and the Magdalena River. However, I always think carefully which one I will buy since 33% of fish stocks are over-exploited (FAO, 2018).
It became normal for me, reading thrilling comments from my friends and family after I post pictures on social media of a sunset in the eastern plains, or my walks through the moors and snow-capped mountains of the Andes.
Yes, this is my life in Colombia, and I do not imagine any other experience that brings me the gratification and sense of wholeness as nature does. This is my relationship with biodiversity, and it should not be different for any other person. Everyone has a direct relationship with Nature, of dependence or satisfaction; it does not matter if we are in the city or the countryside, on the mountain or the beach, it is always a close relationship.
Unfortunately, this relationship is seriously threatened. In the last 300 years we have lost 87% of freshwater systems (Sushma, 2018), 70% of large mammals are in danger of extinction (Spektor, 2019) and the pollution and acidification of the oceans is increasing. In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the most biodiverse region in the world, deforestation in the Amazon is at its highest in the last 10 years (INPE, 2018). And the alarming figures continue.
But this is not a new problem. In 2010, the parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011-2020) to foster its conservation; the sustainable use of its components; and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits. Nevertheless, according to this plan’s midterm evaluation, even though some progress towards achieving the goals has been made, most of the expected outcomes aiming to change the trend on biodiversity loss have not been reached. For example, although many of the countries are complying with the declaration of new protected areas, most of these lands are not being managed effectively.
We have a great opportunity in 2020 as, the representatives of the parties to the CBD will meet to establish a new conservation framework. This will be a critical moment to rethink the strategy and ensure that all the inhabitants of this planet, who appreciate and depend on biodiversity, can continue to enjoy its benefits. Some of the key issues to be considered in the new post-2020 agenda are:
- Ensure results. LAC will have more than 25% of its territory under some form of protection or conservation if the trend in the declaration of protected areas keeps on, although very little progress has been shown on their effective management. The main challenges for the coming years are the establishment of participatory and adequate management for protected areas, and the promotion of complementary conservation strategies in private lands.
- Be self-critical. In order to make the necessary adjustments to achieve the new CBD goals, it is necessary to progress towards management by results, rigorous evaluation, evidence-based conservation, and, strengthening of monitoring systems.
- Holistic approach. Environmental management requires a comprehensive approach. It is not possible to talk about adaptation to climate change without considering the coastal marine ecosystem services. Moreover, the sustainable development goals will not be achieved without considering the conservation of the moorland as sources of water for the population. The post-2020 environmental agenda needs to focus efforts on harmonizing the international agreements and conventions aimed to reaching sustainability, and a standard set of concrete goals needs to be established. We must capitalize the global “momentum” of the environmental issues in the political and social agenda.
The current state of biodiversity is everyone’s responsibility, and it is not only the government’s job. As inhabitants of this world, we must move from words to action. We must continue supporting the local and organic producers, apply ecological waste management practices in our homes, engage with our local protected areas, and above all, stay committed to demand the protection of biodiversity.
Photos by: Lucia Cordoba