World nations launch historic fund to protect nature, and other nature and climate stories you need to read this week

Top nature and climate news: Severe drought in Panama causes shipping delays, and more.
Top nature and climate news: Severe drought in Panama causes shipping delays, and more.
Image: REUTERS/Aris Martinez
  • This weekly round-up contains key nature and climate news from the past week.
  • Top nature and climate stories: World nations agree global fund to protect nature; Severe drought in Panama causes shipping delays; Athens under threat from wildfires across Greece.

1. World nations launch historic fund to protect nature

The United Nations called for national contributions to help support goals, including protecting 30% of global land and coastal areas by the end of the decade.

The fund builds on an earlier international agreement by governments at the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which has been informally dubbed the Paris Agreement for Nature.

Leading donors Canada and the UK have pledged $147.20 million (200 million Canadian dollars) and $12.60 million (£10 million) respectively.

"We are off to a good start. We now call for further pledges from countries and from other sources so that the first projects under the new fund can be launched next year," David Cooper, acting executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity told Reuters.

The so-called Global Biodiversity Framework requires at least $200 million from at least three donors by December of this year to be considered operational, according to US-based non-profit campaign group Avaaz.

This leaves a funding shortfall of around $40 million from at least one additional donor, to kick-start planned projects. The fund will prioritize the world's least developed nations and small island states, with a fifth of available funding aimed at indigenous communities.

2. Severe drought in Panama causes shipping delays

Lack of rainfall has brought one of the driest years on record to Panama, disrupting the flow of marine vessels through a key global shipping route.

Normally one of the planet's wettest regions, the Central American republic is in the grip of an extreme drought that has caused water levels to drop in the Panama Canal.

Many ships face delays trying to navigate the canal, which links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. And restrictions are in place on vessels carrying heavy loads, which are unusual during the region's rainy season usually lasting from May to December.

Similar delays are impacting shipping in Northwest Turkiye's Dardanelles Strait, where intense wildfires halted more than 150 ships to allow helicopters and planes to scoop up water to fight the two-day blaze.

Turkish authorities have announced a partial reopening of the shipping route linking the Aegean and Black seas, as firefighters successfully brought the blaze under control.

Global Average Surface Temperature.
Average global surface temperature has increased 1°C since pre-industrial times.
Image: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The climate crisis is increasing both the intensity and frequency of droughts and other extreme weather events, which enhances the likelihood of further disruption to shipping in future.

The planet's global average surface temperature has increased by around 1°C since pre-industrial times, with the rate of warming since 1981 almost twice as fast as previously.

3. News in brief: Other top nature and climate stories this week

Athens is under threat from wildfire as hundreds of blazes across Greece have killed at least 20 people and caused several thousand people nationwide to flee their homes.

Tropical rainforests could get too hot for plants to absorb sunlight, a new study says. As temperatures exceed 46.7°C, the ability of leaves to photosynthesize starts to fail, with serious consequences for the future of the planet's forests.

A tiny river fly thought to be extinct has been rediscovered, leading scientists to breed the species in captivity at Chester Zoo in the UK, ready to be released back into the wild.


What is the World Economic Forum doing about nature?

Biodiversity loss and climate change are occurring at unprecedented rates, threatening humanity’s very survival. Nature is in crisis, but there is hope. Investing in nature can not only increase our resilience to socioeconomic and environmental shocks, but it can help societies thrive.

There is strong recognition within the Forum that the future must be net-zero and nature-positive. The Nature Action Agenda initiative, within the Centre for Nature and Climate, is an inclusive, multistakeholder movement catalysing economic action to halt biodiversity loss by 2030.

The Nature Action Agenda is enabling business and policy action by:

Building a knowledge base to make a compelling economic and business case for safeguarding nature, showcasing solutions and bolstering research through the publication of the New Nature Economy Reports and impactful communications.

Catalysing leadership for nature-positive transitions through multi-stakeholder communities such as Champions for Nature that takes a leading role in shaping the net-zero, nature-positive agenda on the global stage.

Scaling up solutions in priority socio-economic systems through BiodiverCities by 2030, turning cities into engines of nature-positive development; Financing for Nature, unlocking financial resources through innovative mechanisms such as high-integrity Biodiversity Credits Market; and Sector Transitions to Nature Positive, accelerating sector-specific priority actions to reduce impacts and unlock opportunities.

Supporting an enabling environment by ensuring implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and mobilizing business voices calling for ambitious policy actions in collaboration with Business for Nature.

Indonesia's two rare tropical glaciers could disappear by 2026 as the El Niño weather pattern extends the Southeast Asian nation's dry season, the country's geophysics agency says.

Economic losses from recent devastating Hawaiian wildfires could reach $6 billion, including the cost of property damage, contents and business disruptions, according to risk modelling agency Moody's RMS.

Brazil is set to issue $2 billion in ESG sovereign bonds in September to secure a financial base for the country's ecological transition plans, according to a Finance Ministry official.

4. More on the nature and climate crisis on Agenda

Nature-based solutions are a key part of efforts to mitigate greenhouse gases, and voluntary carbon markets can help mobilize public sector finances to support these initiatives. Here's how.

Extreme temperatures are forcing Spain's external workers to change their labour hours, as the country's policymakers emulate Gulf States in banning outside work during periods of excessive heat.

How can we ensure future climate policies don't alienate developing nations, as the COP28 climate talks loom in the United Arab Emirates? The energy trilemma of affordability, availability and sustainability will be key here.

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