The Scottish Government is leading a global push to ensure action is taken at all levels to protect biodiversity.
A statement of intent, known as The Edinburgh Declaration, has been agreed between subnational, regional and local governments across the world and calls on the Convention on Biodiversity to take bold action to halt biodiversity loss.
It also calls for greater prominence be given to the role subnational governments, cities and local authorities play in delivering a new global framework of targets, set to be agreed next year.
The Programme for Government 2019/20 committed to take account of the new post-2020 international biodiversity framework as part of work to address biodiversity loss. The Edinburgh Declaration is the result of a year-long collaboration across international governments and organisations. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Scotland’s commitment to host and lead an international workshop to drive these discussions moved to a ground-breaking online format over the summer.
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:
“The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been an unprecedented global crisis which has fundamentally changed every aspect of our lives. But the twin challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change have not gone away – far from it – and must be central to our green recovery.
“Whilst Scotland’s progress on the current internationally-agreed biodiversity targets compares favourably with the global picture, it is concerning that, at an international level, none of these targets have been fully met.
“It is my firm belief – one shared by all signatories of the Edinburgh Declaration – that State-led action alone is not sufficient to put us on a path to recovery, achieving what is required to protect biodiversity across the globe.
“The Edinburgh Declaration makes it clear that the Scottish Government, together with subnational governments, cities and local authorities across the world, stand ready to meet the challenge of delivering the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and play a stronger role in its implementation.”
Chief Executive of NatureScot Francesca Osowska said:
“The Edinburgh Declaration puts Scotland on the international stage, a clear sign of our intent to tackle biodiversity loss and protect nature.
“This isn’t just about conservation, enriching our nature is also part of the solution to the climate emergency and is a vital part of a green recovery from Covid-19.
“Global targets for nature and climate change aren’t just set by nation states – it also needs the world’s subnational governments, agencies – and all of us – to push for transformational change.”
The Edinburgh Declaration is available to view on the Scottish Government website.
The Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is provisionally due to take place in China from 17-30 May 2021.
It is anticipated that a final agreement on a post-2020 global biodiversity framework will be agreed at COP 15 to support the CBD’s 2050 vision of “living in harmony with nature”.
Director of Science at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Professor Pete Hollingsworth said:
“Addressing the biodiversity crisis requires transformative change in how people co-exist with nature.
“The Edinburgh Declaration, focusing on the role of subnational governments, cities and regions is important, as it is at these levels where there is vital expertise and understanding of the practicalities of on-the-ground action, and how best to align the conservation of biodiversity with day-to-day life and the needs of local communities.”