Biodiversity Blues or Bliss? A 2023 Forecast
2022 brought us a never before seen global targets for biodiversity. In 2023, it’s the beginning of a new era for biodiversity, one which brings together the pubic and private sectors, as well as communities, to make positive impact on our ecosystems and environments.
So, what’s in store for biodiversity in 2023? Will it be blues or bliss? Here’s whats on the horizon for biodiversity this year:
Taskforce for Nature Related Financial Disclosures
The Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) is an organisation formed to improve how companies disclose information about their impacts on nature, including biodiversity. The TNFD's mission is to promote greater transparency and consistency in the information that companies report about their impacts on nature, by developing a standardized framework for nature-related financial disclosures. This framework helps investors, regulators, and other stakeholders make more informed decisions by better understanding companies' exposure to nature-related risks and opportunities. The framework, currently in draft, is expected to be finalised by September this year.
The TNFD framework will be finalised in September this year. Once finalised, the framework will lead to better awareness and management of nature-related risks and opportunities, promoting sustainability, and contributing to protecting biodiversity.
New regulations for biodiversity
In December 2022, the Australian Federal Government released its Nature Positive Plan in response to the 2020 Samuel Review into Australia’s environmental laws, the EPBC Act. The plan promises to deliver stronger laws and an Environmental Protection Agency, as well as a nature repair market, offsets, accreditation and a data division to support the plan.
The beginning of 2023 will see the preparation of new environmental legislation for consultation, with the draft being presented to Parliament before the end of the year.
Development and expansion of selective lithium extraction technologies
A group of researchers from Cambridge University reported the top issues to conservation and biodiversity in 2023, including the development and expansions of selective lithium technologies. The group reported that, unsurprisingly, the demand for lithium is skyrocketing as we move to a net zero future, which includes the electrification of more things requiring the need for batteries. New mines with less environmental protection to keep up with electrification demand could spell ecological disaster. However, innovative extraction technologies are on the horizon that could help protect vulnerable ecosystems. Will these new technologies come to fruition and help us avoid unintended environmental harms as we pursue emissions reductions? 2023 will see. Either way, governments, corporates and consumers alike will need to monitor and mitigate the environmental impacts of the move towards net zero.
Adoption of COP15
COP15, also known as the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, was held in December in Montreal by the United Nations. It brought together representatives from countries around the world to discuss and negotiate measures to protect biodiversity. Excitingly, the UN Global Biodiversity Framework was adopted by all parties at COP15, enabling global, coordinated action to halt the decline of biodiversity for the very first time. The framework sets out a vision for 2030 in which biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored, and effectively and equitably managed, for the benefit of all people. It sets out four ambitious goals and 23 ambitious targets to be achieved by 2030, including goals to protect at least 30% of the planet's land and sea, to conserve and restore important ecosystems such as forests and oceans, and to ensure that the use of natural resources is sustainable. 2023 will be the first year this historic framework will be put into place by governments, NGOs and the private sector.
From net zero to nature positive
Net zero and nature positive are related concepts that refer to the balance between emissions and absorption of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and the impacts on the natural environment. Until recently, climate change has been largely focused on reducing emissions and reaching net zero. However, net zero is just one piece of the climate change puzzle. While Net Zero focuses on reducing the negative impact of human activities on the environment, Nature Positive is about creating positive impacts by investing in and regenerating nature.
Nature Positive goes further and goes beyond the neutral balance between emissions and absorption of greenhouse gases. It aims to actively improve the health and biodiversity of natural systems, and enhance their capacity to provide essential ecosystem services.
Nature Positive means investing in nature and biodiversity conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of natural resources. It also refers to the shift from a single bottom line (economic growth) to multiple bottom lines that account for social, environmental and economic outcomes. The concept of nature positive includes a positive impact on biodiversity, restoration of ecosystems, and supporting and sustaining the provision of ecosystem services. In 2023, we will see the Nature Positive movement gain even stronger moment, with the support of the new global frameworks including the UN Global Biodiversity Framework and the TNFD.
Biodiversity loss continues to be a major global concern, with many species facing increasing threats from human activities such as habitat destruction, over-exploitation, and the impacts of climate change. Biodiversity is essential for the health of our planet and the well-being of people. In order to understand the current situation and implement change, conservationists, governments and businesses will need to monitor and assess trends, such as changes in population numbers, and distribution of different species, to identify areas of risk and opportunity for business and prioritise conservation efforts. Here’s to another successful year for biodiversity.
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