In addition to the Covid-19 pandemic, the world has long been facing two unprecedented major global crises — climate change (climate crisis) and biodiversity loss and environmental degradation (ecological crisis) — in relation to nature.
There have been many UN-led efforts made over the past several decades to address these crises and minimise their negative impacts. After the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) were adopted by the nations to address biodiversity loss, climate change, and desertification and land degradation, respectively.
Many follow up protocols, agreements, strategies, and action plans have been formulated under these three conventions. Regarding climate change, the most well-known one is the Paris Agreement agreed upon in 2015 to reduce net carbon emission to zero to limit global temperature rise below 2°C by the end of this century, and to make an effort to limit by 1.5°C. Under the CBD, two 10-year-long biodiversity action plans were formulated in 2001 and 2010. Later this year in Kunming, China, the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework is expected to be approved during the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD, along with the Vision 2050: ‘Living in harmony with nature’. The concepts and approaches associated with climate change and conservation have evolved over the years.
Addressing the existential societal challenges, like climate and ecological crises, however, is no longer the responsibilities of the UN, national governments or organisations working in the environment sector. All sectors and entities — irrespective of their visions and primary purposes of their foundation and operation — should mainstream climate and ecological crises into their founding philosophy, guiding principles, organisational policies, and operational frameworks. This should be done not only as a responsible organisation joining global efforts, but also for organisational sustainability.
We have already been seeing within the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office of the Government of the UK (FCDO), and other donors, an increasing trend of making links between conflict & stabilisation and climate & environment. But it is early thinking for FCDO and the aid sector more broadly.
By exploring this relatively unexplored area, we
- can have a better understanding of the ‘conflict-climate change-ecological crisis nexus’;
- can add value to its work;
- meets its social and ecological responsibilities; and iv) support the MEL sector to better respond to global crises.