Experts raise the alarm as 86% of plant species face extinction

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From Uche Usim, Abuja

Agriculture experts and plant scientists working with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and International Support Network for African Development (ISNAD-Africa) have raised the alarm over the possible loss of 24,000 or 86 per cent of the 28,000 species of plants in the world to harmful agricultural activities.

The analysts, in a policy document released by ISNAD-Africa in partnership with WWF at the weekend, stated that if a strategic and corrective action plan is not immediately implemented, things could get worse as the rapidly-growing global population remains a huge threat to biodiversity in Africa.

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Commenting on the development, the Executive Secretary, ISNAD-Africa, Adedoyin Adeleke, explained that while agriculture remained crucial to eradicating hunger and malnutrition globally as the sector generates 32 per cent of gross domestic product and employs 65 per cent of the population in Sub Saharan Africa, its impacts on biodiversity loss remains worrisome and must not be downplayed.

‘The sector, coupled with the unprecedented population increase, is considered a huge contributor to biodiversity loss in Africa and across the globe. Forest and other ecosystems are being converted to agricultural land, thus constituting a threat to habitats and contributing to a reduction in the number and abundance of species,’ he said.

He added that the increasing demand for foods, fuels and fibre induced by the unprecedented growth of the human population has stimulated the intensification of agriculture in Sub Saharan Africa.

To address the plethora of challenges, Adeleke noted that there was a need for the inclusion of 2030 milestones in the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

Adedoyin emphasized that the plan must be communicable and define the outcomes of achievement that were needed before achieving reversal of biodiversity by 2030 and achieving the 2050 vision.

He said there was a need to complement the milestones provided in the first draft of the framework to ensure they help focus the attention and actions of key decision-makers like stakeholders and sectors on what needs to be achieved by 2030.

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‘In order to avoid confusion, we need to be clear that while milestones focus on outcomes, all targets should focus on the transformative actions needed to achieve the 2030 mission, alignment of future investment and development policies around the agreements that include the 2030 Milestones in the post-2020 GBF. These milestones need to be S.M.A.R.T, easily communicable and define the outcomes we need to achieve by 2030 to reverse biodiversity loss and put the world on track to achieve the 2050 vision.

‘They are crucial to improve the measurability of outcomes needed by 2030. We recommend that Parties refine and complement the milestones provided in the 1st draft GBF to ensure they help focus the attention and actions of key decision-makers, stakeholders and sectors on what needs to be achieved by 2030. In order to avoid confusion, we need to be clear that while milestones focus on outcomes, all targets should focus on the transformative actions needed to achieve the 2030 Mission,’ he noted.

Adeleke pointed out that the alignment of future investment and development policies around the agreements that promote nature-based solutions for agriculture must be prioritized.

‘This is in recognition of the fact that if agriculture is not prioritised in the decisions, then national policies will follow suit, thus, limited resources will be allocated to conserve biodiversity.

‘Embrace land sparing policies and strategies where more land is protected and set aside for nature protection. There is a need for policies that will prohibit the conversion of land earmarked for biodiversity conservation and nature protection purposes to agricultural land.

‘This is in recognition that the greatest gains for biodiversity will occur when we preserve or restore the entire ecosystems’ push for agrobiodiversity targets on the global biodiversity framework,’ Adeleke stated.

Being the United Nations’ custodian organisation for biodiversity, the United Nations Convention for Biological Diversity had developed the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011-2020) through activities at the national level, with supporting actions at the subnational, regional, and global levels.

Reportedly, the post-2020 Biodiversity Framework is the new humanity strategic plan for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that is being developed and will be adopted at the 15th CBD Conference of the Parties (COP15) expected to hold in China will build on the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and sets out an ambitious plan to implement broad-based action to bring about a transformation in society’s relationship with biodiversity and to ensure that, by 2050, the shared vision of living in harmony with nature is realised.

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