The climate change and biodiversity crises must be tackled in unison

Nathalie Pettorelli

Our environment is breaking down, taking with it the foundations of our economies, food security, health and quality of life. Scientific advice from the International Panel on Climate Change and the International Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services could not be clearer: we need rapid bold collective action to transition economies to a low-carbon, sustainable, biodiverse future.

The climate change and biodiversity loss crises that underpin the breaking down of our environment are fundamentally connected. Interconnectedness between these two crises should not be underestimated: this is not just about climate change impacting biodiversity; it is also about the loss of biodiversity deepening the climate crisis. Reduced species abundance, local extinctions, as well as the rapid degradation and/or loss of ecosystems such as mangroves, tropical forests, peatlands and seagrass are indeed having a major impact on our planet’s ability to store carbon, while reducing nature and people’s ability to adapt to and/or cope with changing climatic conditions.


Because of these links, prioritising actions that jointly address both crises (known as Nature-based solutions, NbS) should be a no brainer. There are, however, uncertainties and difficulties associated with the implementation of NbS, while the evidence regarding their benefits for biodiversity remains limited. There is moreover no global, legally binding, platform dedicated to advancing an environmental agenda that equally supports biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation; nor is there a nominated scientific platform dedicated to assessing the evidence and issues around NbS and their implementation, or a clear, major funding mechanism that univocally enables countries to choose to invest in projects that equally support biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation. 

In our study, we identify five key research areas where incomplete or poor information hinders the development of integrated biodiversity and climate solutions (see infographics). We are calling on world leaders through the platforms provided at the upcoming COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference, hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy in Glasgow, and the COP 15 Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, China, to develop coherent policy frameworks that align targets across the nexus of biodiversity and climate change. During these key meetings, we want to see nature at the heart of global decision making. 

Research gaps infographic
Specifically, we ask for (i) the substantial and chronic underfunding of global biodiversity conservation to be addressed; (ii) financial incentives that negatively impact biodiversity and/or climate change to be removed; (iii) higher levels of integration between the biodiversity and climate change agendas to emerge; (iv) a monitoring framework that enables the standardised quantification and comparison of biodiversity gains associated with NbS to be agreed; and (v) environmental legislation to better support biodiversity conservation in times of rapid climatic change to be developed.

When given the chance, nature will recover.

It is imperative that the upcoming windows of opportunity for making significant progress in tackling the breaking down of our environment are not missed; none of us wants to live in the future we are currently building for ourselves. Let’s give nature the chance it needs. 

Don't miss Nathalie's Free Scientific online event

Find out more

 

Select a blog

Careers at ZSL

Our people are our greatest asset and we realise our vision for a world where wildlife thrives through their ideas, skills and passion. An inspired, informed and empowered community of people work, study and volunteer together at ZSL.

Nature at the heart of global decision making

At ZSL, a key area of our work is the employment of Nature-based Solutions – an approach which both adapt to and mitigates the impacts of climate change. These Solutions, which include habitat protection and restoration, are low-cost yet high-impact, and provide multiple benefits to people and wildlife. We ensure that biodiversity recovery is at the heart of nature-based solutions. 

ZSL London Zoo

A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo, bringing you extraordinary animal facts and exclusive access to the world's oldest scientific zoo.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Do you love wildlife? Discover more about our amazing animals at the UK's biggest zoo!

Conservation

We're working around the world to conserve animals and their habitats, find out more about our latest achievements.

Science

From the field to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.

Education

A day in Discovery and Learning at ZSL is never dull! The team tell us all about the exciting sessions for school children, as well as work further afield.

Artefact of the month

Every month, one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the Month.

Wild About

Read testimonials from our Members and extracts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine, Wild About.

Chagos Expedition

The Chagos archipelago is a rare haven for marine biodiversity. Hear from the team about our projects to protect the environments in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).

Asia Conservation Programme

ZSL works across Asia, from the famous national parks of Nepal to marine protected areas in the Philippines. Read the latest updates on our conservation.

Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation

An Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.