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05/12/2022

The Nature Conservancy's Dr. Robert McDonald Discusses International Efforts to Address Biodiversity Loss (May 11th)

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Coincident to the United Nations' 1992 creation of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreement that governs international efforts to address the climate crisis/reduce Anthropocene warming, the UN also created the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that attempts to address or maintain biodiversity or mitigate declining biodiversity worldwide.  The CBD has been ratified by every UN member state except the US.  Tragically, over the past thirty years both the UNFCCC and the CBD have achieved extremely limited success.  The CBD's current Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) is largely an attempt to achieve the CBD's 2010 Aichi agreement that failed to attain any of its 20 biodiversity targets.  The GBF currently proposes 21 targets and 10 milestones.  The next CBD meeting, or Conference of Participants (COP) 15, is scheduled for this August in China where it is hoped signatories will reach consensus and approve the GBF.  Concerning the state of planetary biodiversity, currently an estimated 10% of insect species are at risk of extinction, 13% of bird species, 21% of reptile species, 25% of mammals and 40% of amphibians.

During this 35 minute interview Dr. McDonald begins by providing an assessment of overview of planetary biodiversity loss and his understanding of why on balance the US health care industry fails to appreciate the relationship or correlation between biodiversity, or the health of ecosystems, with human health.  He then provides an overview of the UN Convention of Biological Diversity, the failure of the 2010 Aichi agreement, the goals of the currently negotiated Global Biodiversity Framework and the likelihood of its adoption at the scheduled CBD meeting in China this August.   

Dr. Robert McDonald is Lead Scientist for Nature-Based Solutions at The Nature Conservancy. He researches the impact and dependencies of cities on the natural world and helps direct the science behind much of the Conservancy’s urban Tnc_36544076_1920x1920 conservation work.  Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, Dr. McDonald was a Smith Conservation Biology Fellow at Harvard University where he studied the impact global urban growth is having on biodiversity and conservation.  He also taught landscape ecology at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, i.e., helped architects and planners incorporate ecological principles into their projects.  He holds a BS degree in biology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a PhD in Ecology from Duke University.  He has published more than 50 peer-reviewed publications and a recent book published by Island Press and titled, Conservation for Cities.  It documents the role green infrastructure can play in the well-being of urban residents. 

Information on the United Nation's Convention on Biological Diversity is at:https://www.cbd.int/.   

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