50 countries vow to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030

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PARIS (AP) – At least 50 countries have pledged to protect 30% of the planet, including land and sea, over the next decade to halt species extinction and address issues of climate change, at a world summit Monday aimed at protecting global biodiversity.

About 30 leaders, government officials and heads of international organizations attended the One Planet Summit, which was held by video conference due to the coronavirus pandemic. Senior US officials were notably absent, as were the leaders of Russia, India and Brazil.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, launched in 2019 by Costa Rica, France and Great Britain to set itself the goal of protecting at least 30% of the planet from by 2030, is now joined by 50 countries.

A 2019 UN report on biodiversity showed that human activities are putting nature in greater difficulty now than at any time in human history, with more than one million becoming extinct species of plants and animals.

“We know even more clearly in the midst of the crisis we are going through that all of our vulnerabilities are intertwined,” Macron said. “The pressure on nature exerted by human activities increases inequalities and threatens our health and safety.”

More stories: – Scientists decry death by 1,000 cuts to insects around the world – Oil companies block drilling, defying Biden on climate – Australia has gone through its 4th hottest year in 2020

“We can change history if we choose to do it,” he added.

The one-day summit focused on four main themes: protecting terrestrial and marine ecosystems; promote agroecology, a more sustainable way of growing food; increase funding to protect biodiversity; and identify the links between deforestation and human and animal health.

The summit also launched a program called PREZODE which Macron touted as an unprecedented international initiative to prevent the emergence of zoonotic diseases and pandemics, which is already mobilizing more than 400 researchers and experts around the world. The move comes as scientists suspect that the coronavirus that first infected people in China last year was from an animal source, likely bats.

“Pandemic recovery is our chance to change course,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “With smart policies and the right investments, we can chart a course that brings health to all, revives economies, builds resilience and saves biodiversity.”

Guterres also pointed out that, according to the World Economic Forum, emerging business opportunities in nature could create 191 million jobs by 2030.

Other leaders present at the summit were German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. China, represented by Vice Premier Han Zheng, agreed that “collective efforts” are needed.

Full coverage: climate

The event, hosted by France, the United Nations and the World Bank, took place without senior US officials, as President-elect Joe Biden, a strong advocate for climate issues, does not take office until January 20. During his campaign, Biden pledged to better protect biodiversity by preserving 30% of America’s land and waters by 2030.

Discussions on Monday aimed to prepare for negotiations on biodiversity targets at a United Nations biodiversity conference in China in October, after being postponed last year due to the pandemic. The UN’s world climate summit, COP26, has also been postponed to November in the UK

A side conference was held Monday on investing for the Great Green Wall of Africa project, which involves gigantic efforts to prevent the Sahara Desert from …

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