Governments, businesses, people can do much to help protect and nurture nature: UN report

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services says there is much that is, and can be, done to protect and restore degraded ecosystems from reefs and fisheries to forests and farmlands.
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services says there is much that is, and can be, done to protect and restore degraded ecosystems from reefs and fisheries to forests and farmlands.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Despite the gloomy outlook for nature, the assessment by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) says there is much that is, and can be, done to protect and restore degraded ecosystems from reefs and fisheries to forests and farmlands.

But it requires urgent, transformative change in the way economies function, to waste and energy management, to changing attitudes towards the way people value nature and its benefits.

It requires greater cooperation between governments, tougher regulations on pollution and waste and businesses incorporating nature and sustainable development into everything they do. Key is rapidly cutting pollution from burning fossil fuels that is heating up the planet.

For consumers, it comes down to being more selective and informed about what they buy, where it comes from, how it's made, as well as the energy used at home and transport choices.

For example, for agriculture, the report points to the need for better soil and watershed management, preserving the diversity of native crop varieties and species, improved supply chains, localisation and reduced food waste.

For marine ecosystems, the report highlights more effective fisheries quotas and better enforcement, creating marine protected areas, cutting pollution run-off into oceans and cracking down on illegal and unregulated fishing.

Overhauling cities can also make a difference.

 
 
 
 

For example, increased use of "green infrastructure" can improve life for city dwellers while also boosting efforts to minimise the impacts from climate change.

More green spaces, lakes and other water bodies for plants and animals, rooftop gardens and urban agriculture can help cities regulate temperatures, improve air quality and cut down food transport costs. They also bring people a little closer to nature.

The authors say changing mindsets is also key, for example, enabling visions of a good quality of life that do not entail ever-increasing material consumption.

Also important is instilling a better sense of responsibility for the impacts associated with consumption and better sharing of knowledge on how to preserve and protect nature, for instance, learning from indigenous groups how to live more environmentally friendly lives.