This is what The Conversation had to say about COP15:

“An agreement to protect 30% of Earth’s surface and halt the loss of the planet’s diverse forms of life by 2050 was this week signed by more than 190 countries in Montreal, Canada. But what this treaty will actually involve is still far from clear. We asked Henrik Svedäng, an ecologist at Stockholm University, for some suggestions on how biodiversity loss really can be stopped.

He first suggests an end to government subsidies for harmful practices in industries like farming, fishing and forestry, which he describes as the lowest-hanging fruit when it comes to saving biodiversity. Svedäng also looks at protecting fish in international waters, indigenous rights, and ending bottom trawling in the oceans and clear-cutting of forests. Now that we have a global agreement on protecting nature, he writes, here’s how we can actually protect and restore biodiversity.

The biggest challenge for this new global pact will be ensuring countries keep their promises – and there’s an example from human rights law that could help. Plus, here’s how you can help wildlife in your own backyard.”

Svedäng’s priorities reflect his expertise in marine ecology. They are:

1. Scrap subsidies

The first thing countries should do is stop paying for the destruction of ecosystems. The Montreal pact calls for reducing incentives for environmentally harmful practices by $US500 billion (£410 billion) each year by 2030. …

2. Protect the high seas

Almost half of the surface of the Earth is outside national jurisdiction. The high seas belong to no one. …

3. Ban clear-cutting and bottom trawling

Certain methods of extracting natural resources, such as clear-cutting forests (chopping down all the trees) and bottom trawling (tugging a big fishing net close to the seafloor) devastate biodiversity and should be phased out. …

4. Empower indigenous land defenders

Indigenous people are the vanguard of many of the best-preserved ecosystems in the world. Their struggle to protect their land and waters and traditional ways of using ecosystems and biodiversity for livelihoods are often the primary reason such important environments still exist. …

5. No more production targets

Many management practices will have to change, since they are based on unrealistic assumptions. Fisheries, for instance, target a maximum sustainable yield (MSY), a concept developed in the mid 20th century which means taking the largest catch from a fish stock without diminishing the stock in the future. Something similar is also used in forestry, though it involves more economic considerations. …


We wonder what our priorities ought to be, whether at a national level or one much more local. Here are thoughts on that question from the same Conversation edition:

And this argues that human rights law could be used to make sure countries abide by the agreement made at the COP:

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