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Recognising the connections between climate change and biodiversity

PLOS Climate Academic Editor Indu Murthy on emerging political recognition of the connections between the climate and ecological crises

At COP26 in Glasgow in November of this year, 134 countries- including some of the world’s most biodiverse- committed to the Declaration on Forests and Land Use. The commitment is to end deforestation by 2030, to prevent the loss of carbon sinks and protect biodiversity. Meanwhile, in October, during the virtual phase of COP15 organised under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Kunming Declaration was issued, laying down a commitment to reverse biodiversity loss and aiming to underpin a shared, sustainable future for all life on earth.

The COP26 declaration on deforestation links the work of the two Conventions on Biological Diversity and Climate Change and highlights how action is imperative for all aspects of environmental protection and climate change mitigation and adaptation. It declares, loud and clear, the critical and interdependent roles of forests, biodiversity, and sustainable land use and their role in i) meeting the sustainable development goals; ii) achieving a balance between anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and removal by sinks; iii) climate adaptation to climate change; iv) maintenance of various ecosystem services. 

COP26 also witnessed the world’s leading multilateral development banks from Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia issue a joint statement on climate change and biodiversity entitled Nature, People and Planet, committing to align their portfolios with the Paris Agreement goals and with biodiversity conservation goals.

These developments are pointers to the fact that climate change and biodiversity are closely intertwined and cannot be addressed separately, for loss of biodiversity reduces the resilience of both planet and people, and narrows response options for fighting climate change. It is encouraging to see increasing political recognition of these connections, which must continue to feature prominently on the agendas of the international meetings and processes due to take place in 2022.

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