Report on One Planet Summit 2021

    On January 11, 2021, France took the initiative to organize the fourth edition of a groundbreaking conference, organized within the framework of the COP21 agreements, which took the name One Planet Summit. As part of this conference, several guests - including specialists, artists and even heads of state - met to discuss global environmental issues and encourage radical change. Indeed, while the United Nations has been in charge of the environmental struggle until now, Antonio Guterres - the current UN Secretary General - is not afraid to state that no goal has yet been achieved. It is clear: we are experiencing an ecological crisis, so the goal here is to remedy this. Thus, it was possible to organize the conference according to four different action themes

1- Protection of land and maritime spaces

   Under the first theme, Cristian Samper, biologist, as well as President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society, was the first to speak to stress the importance of this subject and in particular the urgency of accelerating the creation of protected areas where both fauna and flora could evolve and live as they should. Indeed, he explained that while the number of protected areas has doubled in recent years, most of them are far too small to be viable for the other 10,000 species with which we coexist, especially in the face of global warming. But he believes that the triple crisis we are experiencing - combining the COVID-19 pandemic, biodiversity loss and global warming - could be partially resolved through conservation areas. He offers us his expertise to advise us to expand these zones so that they cover approximately 30% of land and sea areas by 2030. 

 

It was Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica, who presented the new international coalition High Ambition for Nature and People, which aims, by 2030, to protect at least 30% of the seas and lands to cope with the accelerated loss of ecosystems and biomass. He explains that leaders have a responsibility not only to the present needs of citizens but also to the future of humanity. Prince Albert of Monaco, for his part, stresses the importance of protecting marine areas through the existence of a financial fund, financed by several countries, aiming at a capitalization of 30M euros by 2025. This fund will then represent a main and active partner of the coalition by 2030. Along the way, Barbara Pompili, French Minister of Ecological Transition, encouraged the construction of a concrete action plan to act on biodiversity and thus stop polluting the seas and oceans.

 

2- Promote agro-ecology: environmental protection, food security and reduction of inequalities.

   According to the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, this subject is above all about transforming a mode of production and creating a way to provide food security; it is then, according to him, a matter of maximizing economic development, job creation and the protection of biodiversity. Ursula Von Der Leyen, President of the European Commission, added that we need nature for our physical and mental health and that it is important to invest in diseases, biodiversity and animal health. Within this framework, the European Union is taking multiple actions, such as the partial financing of the Great Green Wall for Africa or the establishment of the European Green Deal aimed at the protection of land and sea areas.

Mariam Sow, co-founder of the Alliance for Agroecology in West Africa (3AO), brings to the discussion her experience in the field, particularly in Senegal, in promoting agroecology among rural populations. She then explains that it is necessary to change the paradigm because agroecology must be done by the people and for the people.

David Malpass then introduced, on behalf of the World Bank of which he is president, their intention to increase investment in agro-ecology. He took as an example their plan to invest more than 5M euros, between now and 2025, to restore degraded lands in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. Indeed, the President of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani, underlines the importance of agro-ecological issues in the Sahelian countries, which reinforces the need for the Great Green Wall, which provides them with the ideal framework for introducing much-needed changes.

3- Mobilizing Financing for Biodiversity

 

   Emmanuel Macron begins by presenting the stakes of an ecological transition in solidarity with emerging and intermediate economies that are already suffering enormously. If it is true that we have still not managed to show real solidarity, this financing will aim to remedy this. In this framework, Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister, presented their plan to work with Canadian Aboriginal peoples to protect 30% of the oceans by 2030. In addition, a UN fund is allocating $55 million to help set up ecological projects in low-income countries.

The Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, took the floor to urge us to study the link between financing and biodiversity protection, and she highlighted three important points. Firstly, subsidies must be produced for everything that is detrimental to biodiversity. Then, it is a question of giving greater subsidies to link the actions of the private and public sectors. Finally, it is necessary to think about a more efficient use of our resources, especially that against deforestation.

Schneider Electric's President, Jean Pascal Tricoire, explains that the industry should not be left behind. It has two roles here: to set an example in terms of environmental protection and to develop innovative solutions to protect biodiversity. Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, supported his presentation, encouraging progress in finding technological solutions to deal with global warming. While the solution is gradually appearing, we are currently destroying species and habitats at a frightening rate - for example, around 5,000 species have been reported extinct. The UK, with the help of France and Canada, is committed to creating protected areas on 30% of our land and sea surface and a budget of £1.6 billion will be allocated to safeguarding biodiversity.

4- The protection of tropical forests, species and human health

   As Ursula Von Der Leyden pointed out earlier, it is important to preserve the environment in order to protect our health because nearly a quarter of the species of fauna and flora are affected by the destruction of natural habitats; this is the subject of this sequence.

France is therefore committed to leading alliances for the protection of tropical forests, aiming at a budget of 5 billion dollars against deforestation. This movement is necessary nowadays because it has been proven that there is a greater risk of infection when we destroy natural resources and abuse ecosystems; combating desertification will make it possible to fight the current pandemic and future ones by combating species trafficking.

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, then underlined the role of the European Union which must be a committed player in order to better develop health systems and to better address the challenges of forest management. He believes he can encourage countries to plant 3 billion trees by 2030 and to create an exponential number of protected areas.

While governments negotiate for biodiversity, it is the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that supports the protection of biodiversity in the food and agriculture sector, as pointed out by its Director General, QU Dongyu. He then presented the Zodiac initiative, which aims to provide an additional $100 million for the monitoring of areas to be protected while better integrating scientific results into the political decision-making process.

Then Marco Lambertini, President of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), took the floor to explain that for too long now we have taken nature for granted. However, the climate crises allow us to understand the dramatic consequences of the lack of care for Nature. He also links this to the potential global pandemics, providing a worrying figure: three quarters of human infections come from animals. Thus, by preventing deforestation, we prevent the creation of highways for viruses. So we need to change the way we produce food to make it more sustainable, we need to change the international import system and we need to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples who are a key driver in the fight against deforestation.

Pascal Canfin, who chairs the European Parliament's Environment Committee, explains that the Commission will propose the very first law to prevent deforestation for imported products. This will be done by working with local companies and adopting a law for the entire European continent. This will give us the possibility to trace what is produced and what we import, using new technologies that will help us limit deforestation.

   In conclusion, the stakes are high and the agenda is indeed twofold. Indeed, we are initially facing a clarification agenda because it is a question of reducing protein imports that create deforestation. Secondly, there is an agenda that can be described as Euro-African because Europe should not seek autarky but simply seek to reduce its dependence while building new alliances with virtuous countries.

Jade Lemoine, Jeanne Bellocq, Eline Prou and Elise Amary

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