Global Agenda Council on Biodiversity & Natural Capital 2012-2013
Biodiversity and natural capital provide the foundation on which our daily lives and economies are built. Natural resources such as oxygen, fresh water, food, minerals, medicines and a multitude of ecosystem functions are the foundation of human survival and well-being. However, the alarming state of biodiversity and natural capital today displays a short-sighted stewardship that assumes an infinite supply of natural assets and a magical recovery or replacement button regardless of the damage done. No less than 25% of all remaining mammals, 33% of amphibians and 25% of freshwater fishes are threatened with extinction. Critical species and natural habitats are disappearing, leaving gaps in ecosystems that result in disturbed or even dysfunctional life-supporting services.
This continued degradation, driven by the relentless demands of a US$ 60 trillion global economy, is threatening the very same ecology on which we humans have built our lives and prosperity. It reflects a fundamental omission in the way growth is tracked and measured. Without the recognition of its value, natural capital is taken for granted, assumed to be infinite, resulting in the depletion of the “planetary currency base” for future generations.
This must stop. There are a number of bold ideas under way that showcase how degraded lands can be turned into fertile, species-rich grounds, how the commons can be efficiently managed to serve the public good in perpetuity, how local actions can change livelihoods and how new economies can be built to capitalize on the presence of biodiversity and natural capital. However, to scale up these initiatives, it is imperative to move biodiversity and natural capital centre stage in the mainstream political, social and business discourse.
- The rapid loss of species witnessed today is estimated to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.
- Every two seconds, an area of forest the size of a football pitch is lost due to logging or destructive practices. Fully 72% of Indonesia's forest landscapes and 15% of the Amazon's have already been lost forever. The Congo's forests face the same threat.
- The world has missed the 2010 target for biodiversity conservation. Based on current trends, the loss of species will continue throughout this century.
“We don’t own natural resources, we only own the interest of natural capital.”
Leo Schlesinger, Chief Executive Officer, Masisa Mexico Organization, Mexico
“We will not be able to build an economy that the Earth can sustain as long as GDP continues to be the sole measure of progress.”
Jim Leape, Director-General, World Wide Fund for Nature, Lausanne, Switzerland
“The establishment of a resilient society is possible based on traditional knowledge and sustainable landscape. There is a need to establish new commons – to include not only foresters and farmers but also NGOs, the government, private sector and urban citizens.”
Kazuhiko Takeuchi, Vice-Rector, United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan
Eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity
8-19 October 2012
Biodiversity and Society: Societal dimensions of the conservation and utilisation of biological diversity
14–16 November 2012
COP 18/CMP 8–18th session of the Conference of the Parties of the Climate Change Convention and Eighth Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (UNFCCC)
26 November–7 December 2012
16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna (CITES)
3-15 March 2013
The Global Agenda Council on Biodiversity & Natural Capital is a new Council. It aims to help transform the status quo by bringing in facts, focus and urgency to the debate. The Council Members’ collective expertise will draw a strong picture of where and how interventions need to be made to catalyse change to ensure a sustainable future. They will bring skills in the areas of communication and scenario-building to help target efforts by various stakeholders within and beyond the Forum's realm. It will strive to gather bold, scalable ideas to attract investment in natural capital, and to identify critical points for intervention to mainstream the sustainable use of natural resources.
The Council has decided to focus on sustainable forests as they harbour the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems. In addition, forests interconnect with all natural resources: they provide an anchor to enhance the quality and quantity of other natural resources such as water, air and land. Forests comprise an interesting “asset class” to focus on, given the various financing innovations under way and emerging between governments in both the carbon and non-carbon spaces. Forests provide a useful basis to develop solutions, test ideas, pilot replication of promising initiatives and interest a range of stakeholders. They may also illustrate the potential to drive positive change through focused efforts in multistakeholder forums such as the Network of Global Agenda Councils.
The Council’s objectives are:
- to develop a new narrative by providing insights and arguments through solutions that emerge from innovations in business, technology and governance, and to “test” for their applicability in the natural resource space
- to develop concrete scenarios that provide solutions for systemic drivers, and “apply” these scenarios on the different audiences society represents
Research analyst: Sandra Miura, Research Analyst, Global Agenda Councils, firstname.lastname@example.org
Council Manager: Lieske van Santen, Project Manager, Environment Initiatives, email@example.com
Forum Lead: Dominic Waughray, Senior Director, Head of Environmental Initiative, firstname.lastname@example.org