25 April, 3:30 pm CET
BERN, Switzerland – Can humans set aside large swaths of the planet to save themselves and everything else they share the Earth with?
A major topic of discussion at the Global Land Programme’s (GLP) Open Science Meeting in Bern has been just that – the newly unveiled Global Deal for Nature, a plan drawn up by environmentalists and scientists led by Eric Dinerstein that was published in Science last week.
The idea is to set aside 30 percent of the world’s surface for complete conservation by 2030 and to sustainably manage another 20 percent.
Eric Dinerstein, now with the conservation group RESOLVE but formerly chief scientist at the World Wildlife Fund, told the GLP in a keynote speech that the Deal’s purpose is to fight off “the two great existential threats of our time”, namely climate change and species extinction.
Part of the deal would be specifically to protect and sustain elements of nature that act as sinks for carbon emissions.
The cost, he said, would be around $100 billion a year. (While this might seem high, bear in mind that Americans spend around $70 billion a year on their pets.)
Dinerstein reckons that the science exists to achieve the 50 percent goal. And while it will not be easy, is it not necessarily as far away as it might initially seem given areas of the world that are already under conservation.
In a panel discussion after the speech, contentious issues were raised about how the Deal addresses continued global consumption, the future diets of the developing world, “greed and corruption” and the distribution of wealth.
Dinerstein was also asked to defend the Deal against potential accusations that it is essentially a “land grab” of areas settled by indigenous or poor rural people. In effect, where will the people living in the protected areas go?
He said that the proposal is designed to protect the rights of people and to incorporate them as stewards of the planet, meaning they would not have to go.
But it is not a choice, he concluded.
“If we allow emissions to continue to rise…then some of the predicted outcomes will actually lead to ‘where will the people go?’” as well.
Check back often over the next few days for our ongoing coverage of the Global Land Programme’s 2019 Open Science Meeting. You can view the plenary keynotes on the free online livestream from the event, and follow minute-by-minute coverage on Twitter at @GlobalLandP or use the hashtag #GLPOSM to follow attendees' posts.