The Battle of the Two Driving Forces that Make the World Go Round: Humanity and Nature.

By Student Delegate Marissa Pizaña

The variety of life in the world or in a particular habitat or ecosystem: Biodiversity. Biodiversity—marine and land—around the world is rapidly degraded and destroyed, with grave and far-reaching implications for human well-being. When most people hear about biodiversity, they cannot help but think about animals. However, biodiversity provides clean air and water, soil that fosters food production, a stable climate, and much more—the very foundation of human society.

The United Nations Human Rights Office of High Commissioner notes that a human rights perspective on biodiversity is important for three reasons:

  1. helps clarify that the loss of biodiversity also undermines the full enjoyment of human rights;
  2. heightens the urgent need to protect biodiversity; and
  3. helps promote policy coherence and legitimacy in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Last year, the UNHRCR stated that failing to protect biodiversity can now constitute a violation of a human right—recognized by 155 states—to a healthy environment. Although all humans depend on healthy ecosystems, the world’s poorest communities, indigenous people, farmers, and fishers are the most vulnerable.

Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, including Seychelles, will soon be adopting a post 2020-global biodiversity framework. The aim of the new framework is to live in harmony with nature. By 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and widely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people.biodiversity-definition-ecosystem-protection

However, there is no accountability or enforcement mechanisms built in. Even more so, 30 years is a long time to wait and hope States apply the framework—and possibly too much time for irreversible damage to occur. For example, studies around the world have shown that between 1970 and 2016, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and fish populations have declined by an average of 68% as a direct result of human activities. Furthermore, loss of diversity and abundance of life on Earth has not plummeted this steeply since the dinosaurs disappeared 65 million years ago.

Map of Frégate Island, sampling sites indicated by white dots (adapted from Google Earth, DigitalGlobe map data 2015). Source: Canning et al, 2015).

Map of Frégate Island, sampling sites indicated by white dots (adapted from Google Earth, DigitalGlobe map data 2015). Source: Canning et al, 2015).

Currently, SeyCCAT is assessing the marine biodiversity baseline around Fregate Island. The overall goal of the project is supporting new and existing marine and coastal protected areas and sustainable use zones. As the research continues, public awareness of the threats facing the coral reefs and marine conservation will be enhanced. Ultimately, SeyCCAT hopes to provide recommendations for decisions to be made on the potential for creating a Marine Protected Area around Fregate Island. Although this is a step in the right direction, is this study enough to keep biodiversity in the Seychelles?

The Seychelles has options to advocate for biodiversity, including both righs-based approaches and ecosystem protection. Scientists and human rights activists are urging States to take a rights-based approach to urge action in four key areas: adopting carbon neutral and nature positive economic recovery plans; targeting key drivers of zoonotic diseases; scaling-up measures to protect and conserve nature; and respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples, rural and local communities. The UN Rapporteaur on Human Rights and the Environment recently presented a report urging recognition of the right to a healthy environment.  In addition, as scientists note we are living in the sixth extinction, governments are now rallying to set tougher targets to protect land and oceans. By 2030, countries hope to protect 30% of all land and oceans through national parks, no-fishing zones, wilderness areas or other conservation areas. These initiatives align with the interconnectedness between human and nature, a mindset embodied in the Seychelles.


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