Time is running out to protect nature — this is the clear message from the 30×30 NOW campaign which aims to highlight the seriousness and urgency of the biodiversity crisis facing South Africa and the world and to champion the global target of protecting at least 30% of the world’s land and seas from 2030. South Africa is still lagging behind in public support for this critical global goal and has yet to join. a group of more than 80 countries, more than 20 from Africa — calling for this goal.
As President Ramaphosa pointed out during the State of the Nation (SONA) address a month ago, we live in one of the regions of the world most affected by climate change. Globally, species are disappearing at a rate 1,000 times higher than natural levels. This has led to the extinction of almost a million plant and animal species, many within the decade, and in Africa 50% of their bird and mammal species could be extinct by 2100, which means we are potentially entering a sixth mass extinction. If left unchecked, our sources of food, water and medical care are threatened and climate change will accelerate further.
However, overwhelming scientific evidence shows that conserving at least 30% of our land and seas around the world can not only curb this loss of biodiversity, but also store carbon, fight climate change, help prevent future pandemics, creating jobs and supporting economic growth – that’s a win-win. Protecting biodiversity can and must be part of the new consensus sought by President Ramaphosa.
Launched on February 11, exactly 30 days after the start, this Sunday, of the fourth and final round of negotiations of the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity on the new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the 30×30 NOW There are just two days left in the campaign to convince Minister Creecy and DFFE delegates to change their stance on South Africa‘s support for the global 30×30 target.
Often considered the “little sister” of the UN Conferences of the parties on the climate (the most recent of which was COP26 in Glasgow), the Biodiversity COP convene UN member states, including South Africa, from around the world to decide on a set of goals and targets to halt biodiversity loss. Although less well known, the decisions made here are no less serious than those made at COP26, and many would argue that they are as important if not more urgent. One of these targets to be decided at the next biodiversity conference, or COP15, is Target 3 which includes providing protection for 30% of the world’s land and seas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity through equitably managed, economically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas.
South Africa is no stranger to the benefits of protected areas. As one of 17 megadiverse countries in the world, government and NGOs have worked tirelessly to protect our country’s rich natural heritage while promoting new, inclusive and traditional ways for local communities to live in harmony with nature. Moreover, far from being in conflict with economic development, the expansion of conservation outweighs the costs of achieving it by a ratio of at least five to one and offers vast potential for job creation. and sustainable incomes, especially in rural areas. Nature holds the key to South Africa’s jobs crisis.
We stand in a unique position to be a leader on the African continent; not only have we increased our marine and continental areas – placing ourselves at an admirable 15.5% and 15.6%respectively — but South Africa has identified its future protection goals in its National Strategy for the Expansion of Protected Areas. More recently, Minister Barbara Creecy, at a pre-COP15 meeting in October, clarified that South Africa will increase its terrestrial protection by 0.5% per year until 2036, from nearly 16% to 23%. Despite this demonstration of dynamism in the direction of 30% protection, South Africa is still dragging its feet. the 30×30 NOW highlighted the amazing work already undertaken by South Africans, demonstrating that we are already in a strong position to contribute to this global goal.
In an OPEN LETTER to Minister Creecy, signed by more than 5,000 South Africans to date, the following call to action has been issued:
“Minister Creecy, South Africa is already on track to make a significant contribution to the global 30×30 protection target – and we have valuable insights and knowledge on how protected areas can create inclusive growth – but that is not enough.
The people of South Africa are asking you to join the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People and support Target 3 of the Global Biodiversity Framework and the inclusion of the 30×30 goal in Geneva during the UN CBD negotiations.
We’re already on the move – it’s time to speak out and show the world that South Africa is a forward-thinking environmental leader. “
If South Africa speaks out, our country can pave the way for more support across the continent, ensure respect for the rights and knowledge of our people and local communities, and ensure that the new GBF is inclusive and effective.
Most importantly, South Africa can increase financing for Africa, helping to shape development and engagement with the financial resource mechanisms provided by the global community to help developing countries achieve this critical goal.
30×30 NOW believes that South Africa is working hard for a better future for nature and people, but it’s not enough. We need to show the world our leadership by committing to the global 30×30 goal. We must assume our shared responsibility for each other. As President Ramaphosa noted in the recent State of the Nation Address, “the path we choose now will determine the path of future generations.”
ACTION: To join the 30×30 NOW the campaign’s public appeal to South African leaders, click this Change.org link to add your name to an open letter to Minister Creecy: https://www.change.org/Support_30x30NOW . DM
For more information on the 30×30 NOW campaign, visit www.30x30NOW.co.za