there were a hundred movements, but what effect?

The World Conservation Congress will be held from 3 to 11 September in Marseille. Two journalists from Report is present at this event around biodiversity, and offers daily monitoring.

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Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône), report

The carpet falls on the Parc Chanot in Marseille. After a week of intense debates, the World Conservation Congress ended on the evening of Friday, September 10th. The final statement, The Marseille Manifesto »wants to bring hope in the light of the collapse of the living:

Mankind has reached a turning point (…) Economic “success” can no longer be achieved at the expense of nature. We have an urgent need for systemic reforms (…) Nevertheless, there is reason for optimism. We are perfectly capable of implementing transformative change and fast. During the pandemic, we have changed our behavior to protect our health and those around us. »

This Declaration, adopted by the Assembly of Members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – which brings together governments as well as associations or research centers – provides it that future international negotiations on biodiversity, to be held in April 2022 in China. In the cave, it draws a new vision for the protection of the environment, assesses Didier Bazile, researcher at CIRAD, a research center member of the organization: We are no longer in an approach that is solely centered on the conservation of species ; links to climate change, agriculture and healthhe explains. Above all, there is now consensus on the vital importance of biodiversity and its preservation for global welfare. » In other words, biodiversity has fully entered the international political agenda. This Congress made it possible to put the points on inalso says Pierre Cannet, of WWF. He succeeded in proposing concrete solutions to respond to the emergency. »

For in addition to this manifesto, more than a hundred proposals have been adopted, which are just as many recommendations to stem the ecological crisis. L ‘IUCN is a transmission belt between the scientific and associative worlds on the one hand and the political and economic worlds on the otherexplains François Chartier, who is in charge of Oceans campaigns at Greenpeace. It promotes positions on which there is general consensus, which is based on research, and which calls for action. » If these adopted proposals are not binding, they will nevertheless have political influence: In 2016, during the last Congress, a resolution called for the protection of 30 % oceansremembers Mr. Chartier. Today, this proposal is on the agenda for COP15 on biodiversity. »

The ambitious position of the French Government

Among the proposals adopted, some actually bring real potential progress. With regard to forests, we adopted a resolution calling for the protection of 80 % of Amazondelights Pierre Cannet. Another focuses on the fight against imported deforestation and another on the conservation of primary and mature forests in Europe, some of which are severely degraded. » Mr. Bazile, for its part, maintains several proposals that push for a change in the agricultural model, by promoting alternatives to synthetic pesticides or by encouraging a change in food systems.

One of the proposals seeks to protect 80 % of the Amazon rainforest. Flickr /CC BYCNreach 2.0 / Cifor / Neil Palmer /CIAT

In the oceans, the program even seems complete: itIUCN calls for the protection of one third of the oceans, for the fight against plastic pollution, for the conservation of whales in particular and for voting in favor of a moratorium on seabed extraction. Afterwards, we will have to see how these proposals are – or not – implemented.warns Pierre Cannet. They must not remain in the closet and that will depend on the mobilization of NGO just like states. »

As such, the French government has played an ambiguous role, once again posing as a green leader, but remaining vague on concrete actions, notes Jean-David Abel, of the France Nature Environnement (FNE): This world congress is held a few months before important international events, the COP26 about climate and COP15 on biodiversityhe points out. One could, for once, have imagined that the government would announce more square, more precise measures. But there was nothing new. » Even the announcement on the 5th % of protected sea areas in the Mediterranean leave him skeptical: Without funds, they remain on paper. » More generally, France has missed opportunities to show real ambitions for the seas, as François Chartier explains: For example, it abstained on the moratorium on offshore mining because a few months ago the government adopted a national strategy for the exploration and exploitation of deep-sea mineral resources. »

In one of the proposals isIUCN calls for the fight against plastic pollution in the seas. Flickr / CC BYCN 2.0 / Robert Vicol

Synthetic biology disappointments

There is therefore no consensus withinIUCN. The members thus fought until Friday night for the adoption of proposal 75 on synthetic biology. The debates were very lively, because it is a key issue for the preservation of the futuresays Estienne Rodary, a researcher at the Institute of Research for Development (IRD), who followed the discussions. Some see it as a very dangerous slope because we absolutely do not know the effects that extinction of mosquitoes can have in certain areas of the planet. But for others, we can not do without these technological solutions. »

Other disappointments, for Didier Bazile certain topics were not or little discussed: The importance of genetic diversity [c’est-à-dire la diversité des individus au sein même d’une espèce] is not really taken into accounthe remarks. We are also lagging behind in terms of governance: what real participation of communities and indigenous peoples and what weight in decision-making? ? » The indigenous people’s – marginal – place had been condemned at the start of the congress by several organizations during a counter-summit and a demonstration.

The participants in the congress inIUCN therefore left Marseille with a bag full of suggestions. They should serve as a roadmap for the next international deadlines.says François Chartier and presents a busy menu:A conference on the conservation of Antarctica in late October COP26 for the climate, the One Ocean Summit announced by Macron in January 2022, followed by a conference on the seabed, before COP15 on biodiversity in April 2022. » The work has only just begun.

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