The last decade (2011-2020) was the UN's biodiversity decade, where countries worldwide "worked to address the many causes of biodiversity loss," according to the UN secretary-general. Countries had set 20 targets, also called "Aichi targets," none of which have been met. These targets were to be reviewed in 2020, but COP15 was postponed due to the pandemic. Therefore, the countries will question themselves this December to know what they will do afterward. Above all, the general idea of these objectives is simple: we should live in harmony with nature by 2050. This idea may seem self-evident, but with only minor adjustments, it would be possible to ignore the economic pressures at the root of today's ecological disruption. The perpetual growth demanded by capitalism is obviously central to the destruction of ecosystems but is never mentioned. In this article, we will first look at the principle of reducing harmful subsidies and sustainable consumption derived from the current proposals made by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Finally, we will show that these principles stem from a misinterpretation of the concept of nature, which detaches it from our way of life.
Less subsidy to the polluters
CBD Goal 17 proposes that countries partially reduce subsidies to companies they deem harmful to biodiversity. Thus, the vision shared in the statement is the lack of need to regulate and prohibit certain practices, such as dangerous forest management techniques or the use of pesticides over large areas. The assumption is that companies will reduce their harmful and destructive practices without these subsidies. Similarly, Goal 14 proposes reducing biodiversity impacts by 50% by ensuring that production practices are sustainable. By avoiding asking governments to ban harmful practices, we remain under the illusion that companies are harming biodiversity out of recklessness. However, the basic principle of capitalist business is cost reduction and profit maximization. Cellular phones are a good example. Within ten years, phones with batteries that can be replaced by the user have entirely disappeared. This increases sales: products can be made more challenging to repair, forcing many people without the technical ability or patience to replace their entire device. The race for profit is at the expense of consumers and the environment. Companies make superficial adjustments like putting their phones in recyclable boxes, but they will never sell less.
Eliminate unsustainable consumption
By making people believe in the goodwill of companies that destroy our environment, we come to blame consumers. People consume what they can afford -- for the most part, food produced with environmentally harmful practices is the only food they can afford. Again: why aren't harmful agricultural and industrial productions banned? By preventing herbicide-using industrial monocultures, the land will become available for more environmentally friendly practices -- allowing everyone to benefit from more sustainable and low-cost agriculture. This refusal to take direct and clear action shows that countries are willing to sacrifice effective measures for vague indicators that will allow them to avoid responsibility for destroying life. With Goals 17 and 14, even if the signed ageement was binding, companies are allowed to continue destroying biodiversity for another 10 years without repercussions.
Create protected areas over 30% of the globe
We can see in this video how conservation projects tends to displace native communities
The only target that came close to being achieved was the establishment of protected areas equivalent to 17% of the land area. Only 15% have been implemented. But why would this target be achieved? Protected areas have long been based on a particular conception of nature where humans are absent. However, it is estimated that establishing protected areas could displace up to 100 million people worldwide as humans have moved into areas where biodiversity supports life. Indigenous peoples are and will be primarily affected as they are directly dependent on biological processes and live in lands deemed undeveloped. Although in some countries, protected areas are sometimes established in co-management with indigenous communities, the fact remains that these areas are sources of many conflicts. How can we ensure, for example, that the communities will not be more closely monitored by the States that offer them these co-management agreements? In any case, these protected areas are a band-aid on a hemorrhage. Among other things, the plan is to open more than 250 mines to ensure the production of batteries for the transition to electric vehicles, as if it were easier to create additional protected areas around these mines than to put in place affordable public transit.
With such objectives, it seems clear that we will not tell companies to stop their polluting activities and will hold consumers responsible for their unsustainable purchases. Nothing can change as long as profit is king. By refusing to consider the economic system as it is, we simply believe in the fairy of goodwill, as we did with all the previous failed objectives. Even worse, we give more tools to perpetuate green colonialism by driving more and more indigenous people to the cities and factories, to the mode of production that we refuse to question.