We contributed our ideas to three questions about needed policy actions for biodiversity protection to the European Youth position paper initiated by the Global Youth Biodiversity Network Europe.
What do you think are the top priorities for the conservation and sustainable use of nature in the next 10-30 years?
Nature protection and sustainable resource use can be pushed forward in different areas.
We believe environmental education to be essential to create a strong connection with nature, feel human’s dependency on functioning ecosystems and understand the arising responsibility for humans to protect our life supporting system.
Biodiversity in terms of genetic diversity for resilience/insurance and functional diversity for the continued functioning of ecosystems must be protected more strongly to ensure that humans can continue to benefit from all necessary ecosystem services. Especially biodiversity hotspots and highly threatened ecosystems due to climate change/land use change etc. must be protected more strongly.
We believe an integrative approach of nature protection will be essential. Agricultural systems play a key role. Biodiverse agroecosystems without chemical fertilizers and pesticides must be established which ensure food production without compromising nature and biodiversity protection.
The continued process of urbanization must consider nature protection in city planning. Air and water purification, recreation, habitats for plants and animals and structures for climate change mitigation and adaptation must be key components in city planning.
What are the biggest obstacles/challenges to the vision of living in harmony with nature by 2050?
Loss of biodiversity threatens the functioning of ecosystems and therefore the services humans depend on (pollinators, water purification, CO2 sinks).
Soil degradation is a major concern, the loss of fertile soil is strongly threatening our agricultural production systems.
Water availability will change in the future, threatening social and natural systems in many ways: water consumption, water supply, sanitation etc.
Pollution of the environment is another key concern. Plastic is already everywhere, oceans, soil, all living organisms; air pollution, water pollution, eutrophication all threaten the ecosystem’s integrity.
The rate at which biodiversity is lost is frightening. Land use change, climate change and all reinforcing feedbacks between global change drivers will likely lead to unexpected changes (tipping points) and it is absolutely necessary to stop the global change into this direction as soon and as best as possible and enhance ecosystem resilience.
What are you expecting from decision-makers regarding the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (and the related EU biodiversity strategy)?
We believe that global cooperation is important to successfully address global concerns such as biodiversity and nature protection. Critical discussion of post-colonial structures between the Global North and the Global South must be integrated in discussions about resource extraction and biodiversity use and protection globally. Often big companies from the Global North benefit from natural resources in the Global South. Responsibilities in terms of nature protection measures and political action must therefore consider existing global power structures.
EU subsidies for agriculture must start financing sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural production systems.
In the finance system, financial flows must be shifted towards biodiversity protection, there must be compulsory biodiversity related financial disclosure. Further EU taxonomy for sustainable finance must integrate strict rules for biodiversity.