Nature conservation: World Nature Summit: First projects can be financed

Exactly one year after the conclusion of the World Conservation Agreement in Montreal (Canada), some scientists continue to speak of a milestone for global nature conservation.

Nature conservation: World Nature Summit: First projects can be financed

Exactly one year after the conclusion of the World Conservation Agreement in Montreal (Canada), some scientists continue to speak of a milestone for global nature conservation. But there is also criticism. The necessary money is now available for the first projects. According to experts, the balance sheet for Germany is sober.

Nature is doing badly

Biodiversity is shrinking massively. Drivers include population growth with the expansion of cities, the conversion of natural areas into pastures and cultivated areas, environmental pollution and climate change. At the World Nature Summit in Montreal on December 19, 2022, around 200 countries agreed, among other things, on 23 goals to be achieved by 2030. This is about restoring nature and using it more sustainably. What progress has there been so far?

First financing is available

The UN Environment Program (UNEP) is seeing important progress in the financing of nature conservation. "The establishment of the Global Conservation Fund in August was an important step in mobilizing the necessary resources," said David Ainsworth, spokesman for the Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat. Almost 200 countries are party to the 1993 Convention.

Germany paid 40 million euros into the fund in September. With contributions from Canada and the UK, more than $200 million is in the pot and the fund can now begin work. A decision will be made at the beginning of 2024 on the first projects that will be financed over the course of the year. Chancellor Olaf Scholz had promised a lot at the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2022: Germany will provide 1.5 billion euros annually for international biodiversity protection from 2025.

The fund was one of the goals of the World Nature Summit until 2030. Poorer countries are to be supported with 20 billion dollars annually until 2025 and 30 billion dollars annually until 2030. Further goals by 2030: At least 30 percent of the world's land and sea areas should be placed under protection. How exactly the areas should be “effectively preserved” remained vague. A further 30 percent of the areas are to be renatured. The danger to people and the environment from pesticides and chemicals is to be halved and environmentally harmful subsidies amounting to 500 billion dollars are to be eliminated.

There is no cheering mood among conservationists

The environmental organization WWF Germany sees little reason to celebrate. There is not enough money flowing into countries in the global south. “The ceremoniously adopted goals will evaporate if even a rich industrial country like Germany does not provide the promised money,” said Florian Titze, WWF expert on international politics. "Nature doesn't care about the budget and debt brakes. In addition to the loss of trust, the earth's biodiversity hotspots, on which the livelihoods of all people depend, are at stake."

And in Germany?

Ecology professor Katrin Böhning-Gaese from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt and Matthias Glaubrecht, professor of biodiversity at the University of Hamburg, continue to describe the agreement overall as a milestone. But in Germany they see little progress.

“At the moment, protection in German protected areas is generally not very effective,” said Böhning-Gaese. "Only 25 percent of the species and 30 percent of the habitats in flora-fauna-habitat areas are in a good conservation status." Glaubrecht believes that Germany is having a hard time with strict protection of nature. The discussion about the establishment of a Baltic Sea National Park off Fehmarn has just shown this again.

"Even when it comes to dismantling environmentally harmful subsidies - such as the abolition of a reduced VAT on flights and meat - to which Germany also committed in Montreal, not much is happening other than talk. I don't see any really effective initiative from the federal government to achieve the goals of the World Nature Agreement to be implemented promptly."

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