Globally, around 1 million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction, and some estimates link global trade to nearly one-third of the species under threat.
Coffee, chocolate and beef are just a few examples of products consumed daily across the globe that are linked to biodiversity loss. Over the decades, trade’s share of GDP has steadily increased – from 36% in 1979 to 60% in 2020.
Today, most of what we buy and consume comes from another country, meaning our biodiversity footprint may be larger abroad than at home.
A report released as the world marked Biodiversity this week said the role of trade in helping combat biodiversity loss can no longer be underestimated. has never been greater.
“We must be mindful of the link between biodiversity and trade when examining the causes of biodiversity loss and discussing the possible solutions,” said Isabelle Durant, UNCTAD’s acting secretary-general.
“For trade to play a leading role in the battle against biodiversity loss, it must be sustainable throughout the value chain.”
The message that international commerce, when done sustainably, can protect our planet’s precious resources was echoed by trade and biodiversity experts at an online meeting organized on 24 March by UNCTAD and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Uganda, being a member of the Convention On Biological Diversity (CBD) is among countries whose trade in natural resources is quickly depleting the once rich diversity from fisheries resources, bird and animal resources.
The country is estimated to have lost about 50% of its biodiversity value between 1975 and 1995 due to hunting and loss of forest, savannah, and wetland habitat to agriculture.
The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2015 -2025 for example notes that fisheries resources in Uganda have been on the decline due to various pressures and threats.
“The Nile perch stocks on Lake Victoria for example have decreased from an estimated 1.9 million tons in 1999 to 0.35 million tons in 2009. Currently 40 percent of the catch of large species in the lake is immature fish” observed the strategy by NEMA and Ministry of water and Environment.
The concern between trade and biodiversity loss comes as negotiators, researchers, activists, business representatives, and officials of governments discussed the role trade should have in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
The new framework is expected to be adopted at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), slated for 11-24 October in Kunming, China.
Conservation alone is not the solution
Hopes are high that COP15 will end with a global agreement on targets to conserve biodiversity and promote sustainable business practices, including proposals to conserve 30% of the world’s oceans and land by 2030.