Ahead of next May’s European elections, a major environmental conference held last week on the future of Europe heard calls for a ‘global deal for nature’ comparable to the Paris climate agreement. The conference was organised by the European Environmental Bureau, member of Seas At Risk and the largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations in Europe.

Several prominent speakers, including Luc Bas of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Humberto Delgado Rosa from the European Commission, told the conference that scientists issuing red alerts for nature should be met with the same level of concern and interest that greets reports from the International Panel on Climate Change.

On 8 October the International Panel on Climate Change published its latest report, which stated that climate change’s impact is more severe than previously thought and that ‘far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society’ are essential if we are to keep the world below 1.5 degrees of global warming.

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This alarming climate report was followed by the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet report on 30 October, which revealed that global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have declined by 60% on average between 1970 and 2014, with freshwater species hit hardest.

Human activity continues to harm the planet’s natural systems that support all life on earth. Oceans are becoming more acidic and seas are getting warmer, affecting marine biodiversity and ecosystems. Fish stocks are overfished, with discard rates reaching alarming heights of up to 90% for some species.

From 13-29 November the 195 Member States of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity will meet in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt to start talks on a global deal to halt and reverse dangerous levels of habitat and wildlife loss. Environmental campaigners hope to see a resulting agreement signed off at the next UN Convention meeting in Beijing in 2020.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper ahead of the Egypt talks, the Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Cristiana Pașca Palmer, said that the loss of biodiversity was a ‘silent killer’ that left humanity ‘at risk of facing our own extinction’.

In addition to calling on the EU to lead nature conservation by championing a global nature deal, campaign groups at the European Environmental Bureau conference emphasised the importance of ensuring that all EU policies are coherent with nature protection and that governments play their part by implementing environmental laws fully.

A version of this article first appeared on the European Environmental Bureau's news channel, META. 

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