Biodiversity and human well-being: An essential link for development

21May 2020
The Guardian
Biodiversity and human well-being: An essential link for development

In order to ensure sustainable development, it is necessary to conserve biodiversity and use it sustainably. Indeed, the critical role of biodiversity in development was recognised in the Rio+20 outcome document. ‘The World We Want: A Future for All’.

Rio+ 20 also popularly known as Earth Summit was a major United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June in 1992.

For several decades, world governments and policy bodies have been on a course of attempting to improve human well-being through sustainable development, which includes improved education, health and environmental quality.

In other words, biodiversity is essential for sustainable development and human well-being. It also underpins the provision of food, fibre and water; it mitigates and provides resilience to climate change; it supports human health, and provides jobs in agriculture, fisheries, forestry and many other sectors

The International Day for Biological Diversity (or World Biodiversity Day) is a United Nations sanctioned international day for the promotion of biodiversity issues. It is currently held on May 22.

The Day falls within the scope of the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda's Sustainable Development Goals. In this larger initiative of international cooperation, the topic of biodiversity concerns stakeholders in sustainable agriculture; desertification, land degradation and drought; water and sanitation; health and sustainable development; energy; science, technology and innovation, knowledge-sharing and capacity-building; urban resilience and adaptation; sustainable transport; climate change and disaster risk reduction; oceans and seas; forests; vulnerable groups including indigenous peoples; and food security.

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, the Rio Summit, the Rio Conference, and the Earth Summit was a major United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June in 1992.

Earth Summit was created as a response for member states to cooperate together internationally on development issues after the Cold War. Due to issues relating to sustainability being too big for individual member states to handle, Earth Summit was held as a platform for other member states to collaborate. Since the creation, many others in the field of sustainability show a similar development to the issues discussed in these conferences, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

In 2012, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development was also held in Rio, and is also commonly called Rio+20 or Rio Earth Summit 2012. It was held from 13 to 22 June.

The issues addressed included: systematic scrutiny of patterns of production — particularly the production of toxic components, such as lead in gasoline, or poisonous waste including radioactive chemicals; alternative sources of energy to replace the use of fossil fuels which delegates linked to global climate change; new reliance on public transportation systems in order to reduce vehicle emissions, congestion in cities and the health problems caused by polluted air and smoke and the growing usage and limited supply of water.

An important achievement of the summit was an agreement on the Climate Change Convention which in turn led to the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. Another agreement was to "not to carry out any activities on the lands of indigenous peoples that would cause environmental degradation or that would be culturally inappropriate".

The Convention on Biological Diversity was opened for signature at the Earth Summit, and made a start towards redefinition of measures that did not inherently encourage destruction of natural ecoregions and so-called uneconomic growth.

Although President George H.W. Bush signed the Earth Summit’s Convention on Climate, his EPA Administrator William K. Reilly acknowledges that U.S. goals at the conference were difficult to negotiate and the agency’s international results were mixed, including the US failure to sign the proposed Convention on Biological Diversity.

All in all, biodiversity is the variety and variability of life on Earth. Biodiversity is typically a measure of variation at the genetic, species, and ecosystem level.

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