Our Burning Planet

BIODIVERSITY OP-ED

Collaboration in SA key to achieving Global Biodiversity Framework targets and goals

Collaboration in SA key to achieving Global Biodiversity Framework targets and goals
Illustrative Image: From left: Unsplash / Damir Omerovic | David Troeger | Douglas Bagg | Zdenek Machacek | S.N Pattenden

South Africa, as one of only 17 megadiverse countries on the planet, must play a pivotal role in achieving and exceeding the 30x30 target at a national and global level by scaling up our efforts to secure critical land and marine resources under conservation management.

The importance of collaboration in reaching the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) targets and goals cannot be understated.

As a leading conservation NGO in southern Africa, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) recognises that there is an urgency to conserve biodiversity and natural resources to support sustainable development for the health and well-being of people, the economy and our environment.

Thus, the importance of the 2024 theme for the International Day for Biological Diversity to “Be part of the Plan”. This is a call to action to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by supporting the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework, also known as the Biodiversity Plan.

The plan aims to create a world in harmony with nature where, by 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people.

The mission of the framework for the period up to 2030, towards the 2050 vision, is to take urgent action to halt and reverse biodiversity loss to put nature on a path to recovery for the benefit of people and the planet. This will be achieved by conserving and sustainably using biodiversity and ensuring the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources, while providing the necessary means of implementation.

Read more in Daily Maverick: SA needs to preserve the equivalent of Kruger Park each year to meet UN goals

In support of the GBF, it is however important to note that biodiversity conservation is not straightforward, but fraught with an array of social, cultural, economic, philosophical and political interactions and, therefore, cannot be fully addressed through a single entity.

For South Africa to make its fair contribution towards the Kunming-Montreal GBF goals and targets, we need strong coalitions that include parties from business, industry, government and the NGO sector to leverage expertise, resources and political support to ensure effective and sustainable biodiversity conservation. We need all entities to work together and be a part of the plan. Collaboration is key.

Collaboration and integration

The EWT is driving South Africa’s approach and contribution towards the Framework’s Target 15 — which is a private-sector focused target for businesses and financial institutions — by supporting businesses with the tools and processes to assess, disclose and reduce their biodiversity-related risks and negative impacts.

We are working with several partners, including Sanbi and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) to develop appropriate guides to be integrated into the country’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) and presented at the 16th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Colombia later this year.

The EWT’s work with business is driven by the fact that biodiversity is fundamental to human well-being, a healthy planet and economic prosperity for all people, and it supports all systems of life on Earth — and business has a critical role to play in securing all our futures.

The EWT’s support of the framework’s four long-term goals hinges on our 50 years of work for the protection and sustainable use of biological diversity. The EWT’s programmatic work contributes in varying degrees to all the 23 GBF targets, which are divided into three categories, namely: reducing threats to biodiversity; meeting people’s needs through sustainable use and benefit-sharing; and tools and solutions for implementation and mainstreaming.

Target 3 of the GBF, commonly known as the 30×30 target, aims to ensure that by 2030 at least 30% of terrestrial, inland water and coastal and marine areas are conserved.

Read more in Daily Maverick: South Africa still lags behind in showing public support for the Global 30×30 Goal

The EWT firmly believes that South Africa, as one of only 17 megadiverse countries on the planet, must play a pivotal role in achieving and exceeding the 30×30 target at a national and global level by scaling up our efforts to secure critical land and marine resources under conservation management.

We recognise that the NBSAP and National Protected Area Expansion Strategy (NPAES) revision will be aligned to the GBF goals and targets, and emphasise that the next revision of the NPAES must not only include all Protected Areas, but also recognise the contribution of the IUCN’s Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) and the land and territories of Indigenous People and Local Communities (IPLCs).

This will bring about what the GBF states are the “effective and long-term in situ conservation of biodiversity, associated ecosystem functions and services, and the promotion of cultural, spiritual, socioeconomic and other locally relevant values”.

The EWT does however caution against the potential for creating “paper parks” or protected areas that are formally proclaimed but not effectively managed or sustained in terms of conservation impact thereafter. To prevent this, management and institutional support measures need to be addressed, and particularly in South Africa’s embattled provincial reserves.

Private sector support

There is a need to recognise the importance of private sector role-players towards achieving national targets, and private landowners are essential partners in the pursuit of the 30X30 target for achieving sufficient conservation cover.

Government is already unlocking key barriers to protected area expansion and unlocking opportunities to engage non-traditional stakeholders in the process to achieve the 30×30 targets, and it should continue to do so.

This will require strategic coordination between the various government departments with either aligned or competing agendas in the landscape, including the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.

As protected area expansion does not occur solely through government, increased resource mobilisation from the global community for ramping up our ability to achieve the global targets is critical.

In supporting the Kunming-Montreal GBF goals and targets, the EWT encourages a wide range of South African stakeholders to take a bold approach towards partnerships that will achieve these ambitious protected area expansion targets through enhanced collaboration, participation and the co-creation of a variety of biodiversity protection models.

The targets are achievable with new models of working, and will ultimately benefit all through supporting sustainable livelihoods, enhancing climate resilience, supporting the green economy and enabling social equity at national scale. DM

Kishaylin Chetty is Senior Manager: Sustainable Financing and Business Partnerships at the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT).

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