For the first time the G7 has made a nature-positive commitment to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2030. This is unprecedented. Never before we have seen nature prioritised in a way that recognises the importance of a healthy natural world for tackling climate change and for a safe and equitable future for all.
This comes at a crucial time when the world is highly anticipating two pivotal negotiations on nature (CBD Cop15) and on climate (UNFCCC COP26) this Autumn. Both of these negotiations hope to raise ambition to tackle the biodiversity and the climate crisis, and will set the scene for the next decade of action – the Nature Compact takes us a step in the right direction.
So, what is in the Nature Compact? It contains four pillars of commitments: on tackling deforestation and supply chain footprints, financing, nature conservation and restoration, and accountability.
On deforestation and footprint:
It makes a welcome commitment to tackle deforestation by supporting sustainable supply chains, demonstrating clear domestic actions, and through a dedicated dialogue initiated by the UK Government (FACT Dialogue). However, we need to see regulation that holds companies up and down the supply chain liable for deforestation – like those being introduced in the UK and Europe - and the compact lacks this specificity and clear timeframes. The G7 Trade and Environment Ministries will meet again ahead of UNFCCC COP26 – this is a positive signal but does not guarantee that meaningful action will follow. We urgently need to see robust regulatory due diligence proposals that cover business and finance, and adequate financial support for the transition to sustainable and just agricultural systems.
There is a welcome commitment to ensure that Official Development Assistance (ODA) – the overseas aid budget - does no harm to nature. We now need to define what nature positive ODA would mean in practice. Despite some positive wording and good intentions - there is still a lack of new commitments to public finance for nature – this is urgently needed to give other countries the confidence going into COP15 and COP26 that the G7 are serious about implementing targets for nature and will commit tangible resources to support others to do the same.
On nature conservation and restoration:
We welcome the commitment to support global targets to protect EFFECTIVELY and EQUITABLY 30% of land and seas by 2030, and to lead by example through domestic implementation of these targets. As recognised in the Compact, it is crucial that commitments for protected areas are implemented alongside action to stop ecosystem destruction and degradation, halt extinctions, and recover species population abundance. We now need to ensure this ambition is embedded in the global agreement for nature under the Convention on Biological Diversity at COP15 negotiations this Autumn.
The compact includes a commitment to review progress every 5 years – we welcome this dedication to transparency and to being held to account for the G7’s promises. As stated in the compact it is imperative that this is done in-line with strengthening the review and implementation mechanisms under the CBD and other frameworks.
The Nature Compact is a step forward and should be celebrated. But, as we have seen many times, words don’t often turn into action and results. In fact, new research from the Natural History Museum, in collaboration with the RSPB, puts the UK at the bottom of the G7 league table for how much biodiversity it has left.
Nature is still in crisis. The promises made now need to be turned from rhetoric into a reality – we can’t call it global leadership if these are just empty words. We need the G7 to implement these commitments at home, and also work with other countries globally to mobilise new finance and capacity to support developing countries. Within the UK, the Westminster Environment Bill, which could (and needs to be) transformative for nature in England, still requires some serious improvements before it can claim to reflect the Government’s leadership ambition, and its response to the Dasgupta Review today has highlighted just how far the Government’s own Chancellor is from committing to nature’s recovery.
The direction of travel necessary for nature’s recovery has been signalled clearly – now we all need to get there, and this is the decade we must do it in.
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