ENVIRONMENT

Life on earth at stake as world’s biggest biodiversity summit opens in Marseille

People walk toward the entrance of the IUCN World Conservation Congress on September 2, 2021, in Marseille, southern France.
People walk toward the entrance of the IUCN World Conservation Congress on September 2, 2021, in Marseille, southern France. AFP - NICOLAS TUCAT

French President Emmanuel Macron wraps up his three-day visit to Marseille Friday by opening the world’s biggest biodiversity summit, which brings together 160 countries, local governments, NGOs, investors and indigenous peoples with the aim of working towards a binding global agreement for protecting life on earth.

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), delayed by a year because of Covid, comes as scientists warn that biodiversity is declining "without precedent in human history”, with more than a million species facing extinction and global ecosystems eroding faster than ever before.

Tens of thousands of participants will meet over eight days to set priorities for action on conservation and sustainable development.

On the eve of the summit, IUCN president Zhang Xinsheng said the next 10 years would be a “pivotal decade” in which humanity must take action to battle the dual global warming and biodiversity crises. 

Nature a French 'priority'

The Elysée Palace said that during his opening address Macron intended to affirm "the priority given by France to environmental issues”.

Several court rulings in France have found the country was failing to meet its climate targets. A court in Paris in February also found the state liable for "ecological damage" linked to global warming.

Accompanied by former minister of ecological transition Nicolas Hulot, Macron will begin the day with a trip to the Calanques National Park to discuss the protection of biodiversity, oceans and the Mediterranean. 

An environmental activist, Hulot quit the government three years ago citing a series of disappointments over France’s attempts to address climate change and other environmental threats.

The website of a foundation Hulot set up dedicated to environmental protection lamented that since he left government, biodiversity was “no longer a topic".

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