Participants at the 2015 World Forum were invited to sign a letter to the UN Climate Conference in Paris this month, urging world leaders to commit to safeguarding global natural capital.
Edinburgh, 23 November 2015
Dear Global Leaders,
What if history looked back on 2015 as the year when humankind finally redefined its relationship with the natural world? In September, we saw the launch of the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development and, as we issue this message, we are now only days away from the long-awaited UN Climate Summit in Paris. It is to the world leaders making the deals and decisions in Paris to which this letter is addressed.
We represent a group of leaders from business, government, science and civil society who see the urgent need for changing our relationship with the way we value nature. Natural capital – our biodiversity, air, water, soil and minerals – is our life support system. Everyone depends on it and everyone benefits from it.
Soils, wetlands, forests and oceans provide a host of services, including the maintenance of air quality, the regulation of the water cycle and the capture and storage of vast quantities of carbon. Biodiversity is vital to our resilience in the face of increasingly unpredictable weather patterns.
However, over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history. Species are becoming extinct 1,000 times faster than the ‘natural’ or background rate due to human activity. It is now clear that, in addition to urgently reducing greenhouse gas emissions primarily associated with the burning of fossil fuels, it is essential to conserve the Earth’s stock of natural capital and reverse biodiversity loss. It is only by doing both that we will truly tackle climate change.
As the World Forum on Natural Capital takes place in Edinburgh, we are issuing this simple message: the climate crisis cannot be solved without halting the rapid erosion and loss of natural capital.
We call on all global leaders to:
1. Commit to safeguarding our natural capital to prevent any further loss, as part of a worldwide effort to lock away carbon and increase resilience to climate change impacts
2. Commit to the mass restoration of natural ecosystems
3. Recognise that the social, economic and ecological benefits of securing healthy, global stocks of natural capital will hugely outweigh any costs of conservation and restoration
We urge you to make the right decisions in Paris. We urge you to make the right investment for our future.
Note: Individuals who took part in the World Forum on Natural Capital were invited to sign the open letter in their personal capacity. The views expressed will not necessarily reflect those of the organisation the signatory represents.
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