Biodiversity, a concept forged in 1985, covers the genetic diversity of species and the diversity of ecosystems. Biodiversity is the living fabric of which we are both actors and dependants. It covers all natural environments and living organisms (plants, animals, mushrooms, bacteria, etc.) and all the relationships and interactions between living organisms, and between these organisms and their living environments.
Biodiversity is essential to the functioning of ecosystems, forests, waters, coral reefs, soils and even the atmosphere, ensuring life on Earth. These ecosystems provide us with countless vital services for agriculture and soil regenerations, climate regulation and coastal protection, air and water quality, pollination, medicine tapped from nature, food, medicine and clothing.
Under the pressure of human activity, natural environments and species that populate them are declining in unprecedented numbers. Human beings have caused the sixth major extinction crisis by massively accelerating the species extinction process, the previous one being that of dinosaurs dating back 65 million years.
The five major causes of biodiversity damage have now been identified and detailed in the most recent IPBES report published in 2019:
• The destruction, degradation and fragmentation of natural environments linked in particular to growing urbanization, the development of tourism, the expansion of agricultural lands and the development of transport, fishing, mining and logging infrastructures;
• The overexploitation of wild species of plants, timber or animals and their products (overfishing and overhunting, deforestation, etc.) for local or international trade that reinforces their illegal trade;
• Water, land and air pollution of industrial or agricultural origin or from domestic use;
• The introduction of invasive alien species;
• Climate change, in addition to other causes, often exacerbating them. It changes the living conditions of species, forcing them to migrate or adapt their way of living and some are unable to do so.
These causes frequently interact with one another. For example, coral has greatly decreased in some areas because of intensive fishing, global warming and pollution.
Biodiversity, a source of solutions, is a central theme of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. SDGs 14 and 15 (preservation of marine and terrestrial ecosystems) directly target biodiversity, but the preservation and restoration of biodiversity is implicit in all of the other goals. The preservation of biodiversity is therefore an urgent global issue.
That is why France is strongly involved at national level and in multilateral bodies to make biodiversity protection a priority of the major public policies and international cooperation. France has made biodiversity protection a priority of its diplomatic agenda and is making a great deal of efforts – for example, hosting the IUCN World Conservation Congress in 2021 – to adopt a historic agreement at COP 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which is to be held in 2021. With its renowned solid scientific expertise and biologically rich territory, France is taking part in many processes and initiatives focused on a myriad of issues: the preservation of oceans, deforestation, desertification and land degradation, illegal wildlife trade, environmental crime, fishing, agriculture, protected areas and species protection.
NB: France is co-chairing, alongside Costa Rica, an international coalition that aims to protect 30% of terrestrialand maritime areas by 2030.
Updated: May 2020