Taking Action for NatureThursday 15th December 2022
This week, almost 200 countries have been meeting in Montreal, Canada, for COP15, the annual biodiversity conference. Coming just two weeks after COP27, discussions this week have centred on agreeing two highly anticipated targets that many say will do for biodiversity what the Paris Agreement enabled for climate change.
The first, and biggest, of these targets is reaching consensus on the 30 by 30 goal, which asks countries to commit to protecting 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030. The second is an agreement to not only halt, but begin reversing biodiversity loss by 2050 – enhancing the world’s ecosystems, tackling extinction and maintaining genetic diversity in flora and fauna.
The impact these agreements could have, if ratified, is immense.
Protecting the world’s biodiversity is one of the best ways we can tackle climate change, as preserving the world’s ecosystems means also safeguarding our natural carbon sinks, which absorb vast amounts of emissions. Habitat loss harms wildlife populations – which in Africa have declined an average of 66% from 1970 to 2018 – and can increase pollution and put vital natural resources like clean water at risk for those who live in those regions. From a business perspective too, Moody’s Investors Service says that $1.9 trillion is at stake as biodiversity loss intensifies nature related risks.
For Africa in particular, these impacts are magnified. Seven out of ten of the countries most vulnerable to climate change are in Africa, despite the continent as a whole having contributed the least to global warming and having the lowest emissions. Our firm belief at Lekela is that Africa, with its abundant natural resources, can power the world’s sustainable future. But to do so, we must protect the continent’s ecosystems and resources.
While these are lofty goals, progress can be made. At Lekela, we are committed to mitigating against adverse impacts on biodiversity and ensure that biodiversity is a core part of our ESG commitments. We are committed to restoring and enhancing the natural environment around our projects, for example through the reforestation project we are running near Parc Eolien Taiba N’Diaye in Senegal. In Egypt, to mitigate against the risk of collision for migratory soaring birds at our West Bakr Wind Farm, we run a “shut down on demand” system which contributes to the protection of migratory birds passing over the Gulf of Suez.
The stakes at COP15 are therefore not just high, but critical. All eyes are on Montreal to see whether or not much-discussed goals will be ratified and enable the whole world to take a step forward for biodiversity preservation.
There is no doubt that we need climate action now. Reaching net-zero emissions simply won’t be enough in the long term, which is why COP15’s focus on protecting our natural environment and promoting nature-positive solutions is so important. We must stop, and ultimately reverse biodiversity loss – for everyone’s benefit.
Jennifer Boca, Head of ESG, Lekela