beyond the curb

Another important conference, the 2022 United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal, came to a close in December on a positive note with the signing of a historic agreement to halt biodiversity loss by 2030.

As National Geographic simply put, “biodiversity is a term used to describe the enormous variety of life on Earth. … (It) refers to every living thing, including plants, bacteria, animals and humans.”

And why does it matter to us?

Well, all species play a part and are important for the balance of the whole. The more diverse the species, the more resilient it becomes. Through ecosystem diversity, species diversity and genetic diversity, a strong protection tapestry is woven to safeguard the planet and the environment we rely on for air, food, water and shelter.

Biodiversity is in the words of Kimp Preshoff of TEDEd, “Earth’s own safety net to safeguard our survival.”

According to cbd.int, a group concerned about the future of biodiversity gathered at the U.N. Biodiversity Conference to discuss vital points and work at a global level to create a framework “that provides a strategic vision and a global roadmap for the conservation, protection, restoration and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems for the next decade.”

The framework focuses on 20 biodiversity goals, which are called the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

According to The Guardian, in Dec. 2022, with the support of 330 companies and investors, countries signed a deal that “if implemented, could signal major changes to farming, business supply chains and the role of indigenous communities in conservation.”

Eva Zabey, the director of the corporate coalition Business for Nature, added, “Target 15 of the Global Biodiversity Framework, requiring that countries ask companies to disclose their nature impacts in their corporate reporting,” reinforces the idea that business as usual is not good for forward-thinking businesses or governments.

“It is economically short-sighted, will destroy value over the long term and it will no longer be accepted,” Zabey said.

So, “after more than four years of negotiations,” The Guardian reported, “nearly 200 countries — but not the U.S. or the Vatican — signed an agreement at the biodiversity COP15, which was co-hosted by Canada and China, to put humanity on a path to living in harmony with nature by the middle of the century.”

Despite not being legally binding, this agreement is a huge step toward recognizing that businesses rely on nature too, and it is in their vested interest to preserve it.

According to The New York Times, “The agreement comes as biodiversity is declining worldwide at rates never seen before in human history. … (Sadly) while there are multiple causes of biodiversity loss, humans are behind each one. On land, the biggest driver is agriculture. At sea, it’s overfishing. Other factors include hunting, mining, logging, climate change, pollution and invasive species.”

“(With the new agreement), we are acknowledging that protecting the natural world represents a sum of linear efforts by governments, by businesses and by us — each one of us as individuals and consumers,” said Inger Andersen, the executive director of the UN environment programme.”

We know that we all need to pitch in, but we also know that some will have more immediate and bigger impact than others.

That is the point Jason Clay of TEDGlobal makes in his talk from 2010 entitled, “How big brands can help save biodiversity.” Clay’s argument is that consumers cannot bear the responsibility of knowing the latest science to identify sustainable products to purchase.

The responsibility for producing only sustainable products falls on the producers. We should only have sustainable products on the shelves. Besides, one producer is able to have a much higher impact than one consumer — and faster.

The same is true about waste — the responsibility currently falls on the consumer while it should really be shared with manufacturers.

There is still much to be changed, but we are witnessing positive steps toward better solutions and those must be celebrated.

Small local efforts also deserve to be celebrated. Through the efforts of volunteers, supporters and partners, in six months Recycle Brevard was able to divert more than 2,500 pounds of waste from the landfill between recycling campaign signs in a project led by the League of Women Voters of the Space Coast, donating reusable materials to Brevard teachers and other projects.

This may be nothing compared to global targets, but we see the issue and have joined others to tackle it. It all adds up.

To more positive actions in 2023 — and much happiness for thee!

Email Marcia Booth at Marcia@RecycleBrevard.org. Booth is the president and founder of Recycle Brevard. It is an independent nonprofit organization 100% run by volunteers focused on reducing waste and promoting sustainable living.