Saving Our Island and Planet

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Jan 18 2021
Editorial Saving  Our Island and Planet

A global coalition to protect at least 30 per cent of the planet’s land and ocean by 2030 has swelled its ranks to about 50 countries, as Governments said at a summit hosted by France that biodiversity loss and climate change should be tackled jointly.

First launched in 2020, the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People added to more than 20 nations, including Japan, Germany, Kenya, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Ecuador. Its member countries combined are home to an estimated 30 per cent of animal and plant species on land and a quarter of carbon stores in biomass and soil, the coalition said. Their boundaries also contain 28 per cent of ocean areas that are most important to preserve global marine biodiversity, and more than a third of carbon stocks in the Earth’s seas.

Sri Lanka, a biodiversity hotspot should seriously consider joining multi-national efforts such as these in order to support growing challenges in helping preserve the island’s unique environment. In recent years, Sri Lanka has been identified with major ecological problems such as deforestation and habitat loss, the country was also recently ranked as one of the worst plastic polluters of oceans and seas. 

A growing body of scientific research has shown that half of the planet must be kept in a natural state to address the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, with an interim goal of a minimum of 30 per cent protection by 2030, it added. Today, only an estimated 15 per cent of the world’s land and seven per cent of the ocean have some degree of protection, it noted. The benefits of protecting 30 per cent of the planet are estimated to outweigh the costs by a ratio of at least five to one, said a 2020 report by 100 economists and scientists.

Preserving equilibrium is a serious problem when it comes to Sri Lanka’s environment in the face of various human developments as we, as a nation, take on newer challenges. The country saw a level of growth in the last century like never before in its 2,500 year history; modernity took its course and virtually turned the country inside out starting from previous century. To meet growing demands, forests have to be cleared for roads; hills must fall for building material and waterways diverted to produce electricity. Pollution mounted as the island’s inhabitants adopted consumer lifestyles; a far cry from the rustic and frugal ways of the past. The tiny nation grew to more than 20 million people and more space was needed. However, the more we chop away at our natural world to accommodate our growing needs, the more problems are caused to the environment; setting off a chain reaction that unleashes famines, droughts  and floods and host of other problems linked to climate change and pollution.  

In contrast to Sri Lanka’s paradigm of sacrificing nature as cost of development, a September study by consultancy McKinsey and Company also found that protecting 30 per cent of the planet’s land and ocean could create up to 650,000 jobs and support about 30 million jobs in eco-tourism and sustainable fishing, it added. The HAC said it had created a task force to promote the expertise of indigenous people and local communities in the UN biodiversity negotiations.

Likewise, it is imperative that we join bodies such as HAC to gain in-depth and effective methodologies to help protecting our natural resources and to learn ways to save our conomy at the same time. Investing in safeguarding our island from the ravages of relentless development should be immediate and will be beneficial for future generations. 

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Jan 18 2021

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