Does the notion of a “green economy” go hand in hand with the pursuit of the “rights of nature”?
If not, can they at least be reconciled, especially considering the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication in this complicated world?
As an international animal welfare organization, we think about this all the time. But we are not too sure all government leaders do.
So I will be keen on hearing the responses of others when we ask those questions today in a High Level Ministerial Panel session at the 11th Conference of Parties of the Convention of the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) of Wild Animals in Quito, Ecuador.
Titled “Uniting the Rights of Nature and the Green Economy in the Context of Sustainable Development and Poverty: Finding Solutions to Protecting International Wildlife,” the talk will include 20 selected environment ministers from Asia, Africa and Latin America, executive secretaries of multilateral environment agreements and will be chaired by Lorena Tapia, Ecuador’s own environment minister.
To better inform decision-making at these high levels of governance, we must have some baseline for the values of nature. The “green economy” approach looks at value and assesses it financially. Given that economic value is the most widely accepted value in many of our societies, mine included, this can be a relevant approach.
RELATED: Advocating species listings at CMS in Quito
But we have a major problem if this (once again!) turns everything in nature into a commodity and forces that which does not pay for its own right to be conserved to be cast aside as worthless.
Let’s face it: ecologically we are much less sustainable today than we were in 1992 when we met at Rio’s World Summit. Some would even go as far to say that we have failed miserably as a global community having come nowhere close to universal sustainability. The biggest problem?
Governments prioritise short-term economic profits over long-term benefits for society and nature.
But there is a small nuance as well that has huge ramifications.
We focus too often on “sustainable use” rather than “sustainability.” So while all of us debate the aspect of sustainability, the inherent expectation is that we “use” nature. This all too often results in “sustained over-exploitation,” leading to a barrage of ills, from dramatically increased poverty, social injustice, civil unrest and climate change to an increased numbers of endangered species and biodiversity lost and decreased wildlife populations and habitats.
A healthy economy is not only socially just but ensures fair access and benefit sharing of natural resources. It must respect and protect the ecological integrity of nature and be guided by ecological and biological sustainability, the ethical treatment of animals and the precautionary principle. While we may “use” nature to some extent, we also have major responsibilities by these larger sets of values.
We are getting there.
Many agreements and an increasing number of government policies—even constitutions—recognise rightly the intrinsic value of biodiversity and the universe of life requisite to sustain it. The Convention of Biological Diversity recognises the “intrinsic value of biological diversity and the ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic values of biological diversity and its components.”
It is high time that the CMS promotes the intrinsic value of wildlife and promotes the wellbeing of migratory species by embracing more fully the rights of nature in the context of what we all hope will truly be a globally green economy.
For more information about IFAW efforts to positively affect conservation policy, visit our Political Advocacy pages.
Article source: IFAW