Myanmar environmentalists join call for $500b global conservation fund

Myanmar environmentalists join call for $500b global conservation fund Lush green mountains and clear flowing stream in Myanmar. Photo Supplied

07 Oct 2020 - Source: Myanmar Times

Myanmar environment groups were among the more than 140 global conservation organisations that are urging the United Nations to set up a US$500 billion fund to finance environment conservation activities by different people's organizations around the world.

The Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN), Mohnyin Greening and Development Association, Myanmar Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association, Myanmar Organic Growers and Producer Association and the Myanmar Myeik University were among the signatories to the letter sent last week to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

"We call on global governments to provide nature with the financial investment needed to safeguard all our futures," the letter said. "We are calling for an initial $500 billion yearly funding commitment, scaling up year-on-year, to reverse ecosystem degradation and protect the natural world.

"It is time for governments and businesses of the world to step up, take responsibility and deliver the funding for nature that is found so easily for activities that are harmful to nature," it added.

It said the current COVID-19 pandemic that wreaks havoc in all countries across the globe should serve as a warning call to restore balance in nature.

"Whenever nature is misused and abused there will be consequences," it said. "Across the world, species that are critical to balanced ecosystems are threatened by habitat destruction, deforestation and over-fishing. Some have already been driven to extinction."

The letter jump-started the "Our One Home" global campaign for biodiversity conservation, and nature protection, according to the UK-based Fauna and Flora International (FFI).

This is a campaign will urge the government and business to boost the global fund for biodiversity protection and rehabilitation, it said.

"Despite the pandemic, environmental degradation continues," an FFI-Myanmar's conservationist said.

"There is no time to wait for conservation and the earlier the program can get started, the better it is for conservation because everything can be changed within a year." he added.

FFI said that it is time for governments and businesses of the world to step up, take responsibility and deliver the funding for nature that is found so easily for activities that harmful to nature.

It said more funding must find its way to grass roots levels where it will be used most effectively.

But the groups noted that aside from allocating fund for environment protection and conservation, there must also be conscious efforts to reduce and penalized activities that harm nature.

"Money for nature is not enough on its own," they said in the letter. "It is time to shift what is prioritised. A healthy economy is only possible alongside a healthy environment. A fundamental reordering of how and where money gets spent is necessary."

Specifically, the groups noted that the way land is used must change.

"Despite the clearance of huge swathes of biodiverse land for commercial agriculture, two billion people on our planet are food insecure," they said. "New forms of food production, on land and in the oceans, based on local rights that empower communities, are necessary to provide long-term livelihoods and ensure food and its profits go to those who need it."

Last month, the World Wildlife for Nature (WWF) Living Planet Report 2020 revealed a two- thirds decline in wildlife populations on average since 1970 because of deforestation, unsustainable agriculture and the illegal wildlife trade. It said the between 1970 and 2016, there is a 68 percent average decline in global vertebrate species populations.

In Myanmar alone, more than 300 species are facing the threat of extinction because plants and wildlife exploitation for traditional herbal medicines, clothes and accessories, as well as for food and for pets. Worse, hunting and poaching remain rampant in about70 per cent of the country's wildlife sanctuaries according to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2018.

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