Leopoldina news 3_2021 | Page 5

3 / 2021 // LEOPOLDINA / NEWS 5
of agricultural landscapes back in October 2020 . But we do still need to extend nature reserves and restore forests , wetlands and grassland ecosystems too if we are to avoid species becoming extinct . von Braun : Ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit , many countries are in agreement that monumental change is required within the agricultural sector . The organic quota recently agreed upon by the European Union highlights that this issue is now on the political agenda . Ultimately , nature-positive farming is the way forward .
Katrin Böhning-Gaese ML
Director of the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre ( SBiK-F ) and professor at the Goethe University Frankfurt / Germany .
Image : Michael Frank
It sounds like major changes are required . But how can we help as individuals ? Böhning-Gaese : When agricultural practices are more respectful of biodiversity , crop yields tend to be lower . We can balance this out by following a plant-based diet . And that doesn ’ t mean we have to give up meat entirely . After all , grazing animals are essential when it comes to maintaining biodiverse pastures . That gives us the all-clear to enjoy our oncea-week roast beef on a Sunday . Planting a wildflower patch in your garden and creating living walls are other great ways to contribute . It is easier to do something to help preserve biodiversity than it is to tackle climate change . von Braun : The consumer is a powerful figure in the supply chain . They can check labels on products to make sure they have been made sustainably . Anyone in a comfortable financial position should also think about sufficiency , that is the notion that there is such a thing as “ enoughness ”.
Everyone is talking about climate change at the moment . Is this to the detriment of biodiversity ? Böhning-Gaese : The decline in biodiversity is as dramatic as global warming – if not more so . Both problems come down to the fact that we overexploit natural resources . And a major transformation is the only solution in both cases . The IPBES and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have also highlighted the similarities recently . If you ask me , it shouldn ’ t be possible to speak about climate change or biodiversity loss without mentioning the other . von Braun : Around 30 percent of greenhouse gases can be traced back to changes in land use . Climate change and biodiversity loss are inextricably linked – in terms of both the problems and the solutions . That ’ s why it ’ s essential for policy strategies at the UN summits on climate change , biodiversity and food systems due to be held this autumn to be interlinked .
Biodiversity is a public good without a market value . Does that need to change ? von Braun : The indirect costs associated with the food system as a result of damage caused to the environment are just as high as the market value of the food itself . Around USD 9 trillion is spent globally on food every year . And that ’ s more or less on par with the cost of environmental damage affecting soil , water , biodiversity and the climate . We need to change the way we value food . It ’ s a question of ethics as much as anything else . Böhning-Gaese : Sure , we can try to put a monetary value on biodiversity . But ultimately we need to change the way we calculate value . Environments that are home to diverse species also have an impact on our well-being and mental health . That impact is really quite considerable – even more so than we realise at this stage .
Joachim von Braun ML
Director of the Center for Development Research ( ZEF ) and Professor of Economic and Technological Change at the University of Bonn / Germany .
Is it going to be possible to slow down climate change and species loss significantly enough ? Böhning-Gaese : We don ’ t have a choice . The use of the Earth ’ s resources has gained momentum at an alarming rate during our generation ’ s lifetime . Now it is our responsibility to do something about it . There ’ s still time to counteract the effects and preserve biodiversity by working to protect species . von Braun : But we don ’ t have a lot of time to hang around . We need to take decisive action within this decade . I am filled with optimism by the change of mindset and a growing awareness of nature and planetary health – in Europe and beyond . We also have a crystal-clear scientific understanding of the situation , meaning that science-based policy advice can have a better success rate .
Annual Assembly “ Biodiversity and the Future of Variety ”
Image : ZEF