‘We are at war with nature’ – and we urgently need to make peace


I wrote in November 2022 in regards to the consequence of COP27, the assembly of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention in Egypt (Nov 6-18). In December 2022, the fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity met in Montreal, Canada (Dec 7-19). Ten thousand individuals registered for this COP and greater than 30,000 attended COP27. That’s lots of people – so why is progress on environmental points so troublesome?

At the Biological Diversity COP, a chilling warning was issued by the pinnacle of the United Nation’s Environment Programme: “As far as biodiversity is concerned, we are at war with nature. We need to make peace with nature. Because it is what sustains everything on Earth… the science is unequivocal,” stated Inger Andersen.

The consequence of the Montreal assembly will need to deal with “the five horsemen of the biodiversity apocalypse” – land-use change, overexploitation, air pollution, the local weather disaster, and the unfold of invasive species.

The draft targets included within the international biodiversity framework contain proposals to defend 30% of land and sea, repurpose billions of {dollars} of dangerous subsidies for nature-friendly investments, and deal with invasive species.

Here is obvious recognition that planetary well being is important to human well being.

Make no mistake, these international processes, massive and ponderous as they seem, are an important factor of our collective effort to make sure the well being of the planet is protected and, in flip, that human well being outcomes are improved. But they are solely a part of the equation – and the targets are solely targets except and till they are met.

Governments have by no means met UN biodiversity targets in full and local weather change commitments went into reverse at the Egypt gathering final month. So the query have to be, who’s accountable for this backsliding? Who is accountable for the truth that right here in Malaysia we are emitting virtually thrice extra carbon per head right now than in 1990 and are within the prime 30 international emitters per capita? And what can we do about it?

My sense is that whereas we are all fearful by the state of the planet, we’re additionally at a loss about what we can do.

The arrival of a brand new authorities offers the chance for a reboot of our collective ambition. The newly created and warmly welcomed Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Ministry has its work reduce out and so it’s gratifying to see the phrases “climate change” in its title – a recognition of the pressing need to up our sport.

Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad has articulated 4 areas of focus: floods, power use, local weather change and environmental safety. I might additionally request the Prime Minister and his Cabinet concentrate on a number of extra particular points as properly:

Firstly, the federal government ought to proceed to assist the National Planetary Health Action Plan, which is being coordinated by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia. Recasting the connection between individuals and planet will assist us all perceive our roles in addressing the challenges we face.

Secondly, this work have to be linked to the well being white paper that was began underneath the earlier administration, for an pressing realignment of our well being system following the devastating influence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thirdly, in September 2021, the twelfth Malaysia Plan (2021-2025) promised laws on local weather change to improve coordination and improve the effectiveness of local weather change actions, with a brand new regulation anticipated in 2024. Getting commitments codified in regulation will assist us to transfer ahead and present readability on what we are supposed to do.

Finally, as we gear up to take our flip as chair of Asean in 2024, our administration wants to know it will probably and ought to play a number one and transformative function.

The new Asean Vision masking the interval 2025 to 2035 will probably be elaborated throughout 2023 and 2024 with Malaysia holding the pen. Ensuring that the doc recognises the need for sustainable improvement, helps concrete actions to tackle the local weather and biodiversity crises, and identifies a means to convey the three Asean pillars – political-security, financial, and social-cultural – collectively will probably be important. It will put together a pathway for our area to lead international efforts on growing a planetary health-oriented post-2030 agenda.

Already the UN is planning a Summit of the Future in Septem-ber 2024 that can contain heads of state. Malaysia, each in its personal proper and as incoming Chair of Asean, working carefully with Indonesia as 2023 Chair, can play a key function right here in laying out our plans and these of the Asean area.

Time is brief, however alternatives for our nation to exert management domestically, regionally and internationally within the combat to flip issues round has by no means been higher nor extra pressing whereas at the identical time offering us with potential for a collective sense of optimism – if we all work collectively.

Dr Jemilah Mahmood, a doctor and skilled disaster chief, was appointed the manager director of the Sunway Centre for Planetary Health at Sunway University in August 2021. She is the founding father of support organisation Mercy Malaysia and has served in management roles internationally with the United Nations and Red Cross for the final decade. She writes on Planetary Health Matters as soon as a month in StarLifestyle.

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