COP 15: Biodiversity

COP 15

19 October 2021

Have you heard the term ‘COP 15’ in the news or in school? If you haven’t heard about it yet, you probably will over the coming months. It’s all to do with biodiversity.

When it comes to dealing with big, important issues such as protecting the variety of plant and animal life on our planet, people from all over the world need to work together. In October 2021 the first part of the conference will take place on-line, then in spring 2022 the second part will take place in China. Organised by the UN (United Nations), this Biodiversity Conference—called COP 15*—will allow representatives from many countries to look at how to build a better future in harmony with nature.

Life on Earth has evolved over millions of years to be hugely varied or diverse. However, the actions of humans have resulted in a decrease in variety. This drop in diversity has sped up in recent years and many plants and animals have completely disappeared (become extinct). The UN Secretary-General has said that the COP 15 meeting can “halt the extinction crisis”.

Governments will be required to develop strategies and action plans that aim to halt the loss and restore biodiversity. This might include looking at how natural resources such as forests, rivers, seas and soil are used. It might involve setting rules around activities like farming, mining, fishing and house building—all the things that affect the natural environment.

The purpose of the meeting will be to agree ways to minimize negative effects on the natural world, to use practices that are sustainable and that help and conserve biodiversity. Actions agreed by governments will filter down to the businesses and to the individuals who live in the countries involved. Ultimately, you too will be part of the effort to protect all life on Earth and to live in harmony with nature.

Here in Scotland 11% of species are threatened with extinction from Great Britain, according to the State of Nature 2019 report. What can you do to help?

If you have an outdoor space at home, you could make it wildlife-friendly by planting seeds, building a ‘bug hotel’, or putting out food and water for birds.

You can help keep your local area safe for animals by carefully disposing of litter or helping at a beach clean. When you are enjoying the countryside, always follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code to enjoy nature responsibly. Don’t forget to look out for reports from COP 15, it is an extremely important event for the future of our planet!

* COP stands for Conference of Parties

· The 2021 conference will be the 15th meeting about biological diversity

· 2011-2020 was the UN Decade on Biodiversity

· 2021-2030 will be the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration