$500 billion a year to protect wildlife

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COP26

NEWS AND VIEWS: Sir David Attenborough is supporting a campaign by more than 100 conservation groups to get countries to commit, in total, £390 billion ($500 billion) annually to protect wildlife. Today there is a virtual UN biodiversity summit meeting. The UK’s Prime Minister is this year’s president of the G-7 and he is hosting the COP26 climate change conference. He wants the protection of the natural world to be top of the agenda.

COP26

COP26. Image free to use.

He believes that as humankind has upset the delicate balance that nature achieved over millions of years it is catastrophic for the climate, for sustainability, for public health and food security.

Sir David Attenborough urgently wants world leaders and global businesses to get stuck in and committed to investing in protecting nature. There needs to be a unified effort from business and world leaders. Comment: my personal thought is that the conservation of nature is mainly in the hands of big business at the end of the day. They are the people who are exploiting nature. They can turn it around. Governments can enact laws banning certain behaviour by businesses but it is very hard to enforce these laws and there are always an endless number of abuses and breaches of legal obligations causing destruction, for example, of the rainforest. And protected wild species are constantly traded internationally against international treaty agreements.

Amazon deforestation in Brazil for soya production

View from above on a flight from Manaus to Santarem of a cross shaped deforested area. This is an illegally logged area spanning 1645 hectares which has been logged to plant soya. Photo: Greenpeace.

It is about business. I refer to big business but also individuals, poachers and individual traders and smugglers also play a big role in damaging wildlife. The poachers are the troops on the ground doing work for businesses. The overall trade in wildlife is massive business in the billions of pounds or dollars annually. And of course deforestation is the consequence of businesses who want to rear cattle where there was forest or create plantations for soybean or palm oil. There is a huge market in palm oil resulting in the destruction of many ancient and virgin forests. We can do without it in our products. We should find alternative means which are more sustainable.

Sir David supported a letter from more than 100 groups to Antonio Gutterres the UN secretary-general calling for countries to commit US$500 billion annually, initially. This sum should rise going forward to protect nature and stop an impending wave of extinctions.