Global rescue plan to stop mass extinction "hopelessly weak and inadequate"

24 February 2020

A draft global plan to halt the collapse of nature will not protect vulnerable communities or stop the Earth's sixth mass extinction, claims Friends of the Earth. The call comes as governments meet in Rome for the first time today to work on a "Paris-style" United Nations agreement that will eventually be agreed in October. [1]

The plan will replace an existing 10-year strategy which was barely implemented and dramatically failed to halt the loss of nature. Last year an intergovernmental panel of scientists called for an urgent and fundamental shift away from growth-based economies after reporting that more species are threatened with extinction than ever before. [2]

Nele Mariën, Forests and Biodiversity Coordinator at Friends of the Earth International, said: "The current draft plan is hopelessly weak and inadequate. It won't prevent the sixth mass extinction or build a fairer and safer future. It requires binding rules to ensure we start living within planetary boundaries, reduce inequality, address corporate conflict of interest and ensure rights for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. In short we need system change."

Friedrich Wulf, international nature campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Time has almost run out. We need an urgent plan to save humanity and this is not it. National governments need to step up and reverse our growth-obsessed, nature-wrecking economies if we are going to stand any chance of stopping the collapse of the natural world. Rich countries such as those in the EU – who continue to contribute most to the destruction through their over-consumption and damaging corporations – have a responsibility to play a much stronger role."

Governments from around the world will work all week in Rome on a new plan. However, the first draft, which was published in January [3], lacks ambition and urgent targets for saving people and nature [4]. In particular, it:

  • fails to address the root causes of the collapse of nature – the over-consumption of resources by wealthier countries, industrial agriculture and an economic system that drives further destruction and greater inequality, all of which require wealthy countries to support a just transition in the global South.
  • lacks legally binding mechanisms to enforce an agreed plan. The main failure of the existing plan was that governments mostly ignored it without repercussions.
  • introduces weaker targets than the existing plan. There is no plan to halt damaging practices such as mining, commodity crops or pesticide use.
  • allows for nature to be destroyed as long as it is saved elsewhere – which would lead to corporations putting a price on nature and offsetting their damage by paying to save it in another place. This will inevitably lead to a financial market in saving and destroying biodiversity and ignores the vital role of Indigenous Peoples and local communities in defending ecosystems.
  • fails to put communities – and especially Indigenous Peoples – at the heart of nature protection. Likewise, mentions of justice, equity and poverty reduction are missing, as is any obligation for wealthy countries to provide resources to support the Global South.