9 ideas for how policy makers can increase biodiversity

International Biodiversity Day 2024

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The impact of biodiversity loss affects everything from your constituents’ livelihoods to your future chances of reelection.

When pollinator populations decline due to lack of habitat, it increases agriculture's reliance on pesticides, with consequences for food safety, public health and rural livelihoods. Crop monocultures and diminished genetic diversity in domesticated species also heighten vulnerability to pests and diseases, threatening global food security and supply chains.

At the same time, biodiversity underpins key ecosystem services like water purification, flood control and carbon sequestration that protect your community. Biodiversity-rich natural areas also drive significant economic activity through industries like tourism and recreation.

But biodiversity is under threat from climate change, pollution, invasive species, over-exploitation, and growing cities and populations, among other factors. 

As a policy maker, however, you have the power to shape policies that will build biodiversity resilience and ensure we all continue to reap the benefits of natural resources. 

That’s why, for International Biodiversity Day 2024, we’ve put together a list of 9 ideas for how policy makers can increase biodiversity.  

Let’s take a look. 

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International Day for Biodiversity 2024: This year’s theme 

The International Day for Biodiversity is a UN-approved day that’s celebrated all over the world on May 22nd. The aim is to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity and the need to protect it. 

World Biodiversity Day, as it’s also known, is part of UN efforts to promote the Sustainable Development Goals and the Biodiversity Plan

The theme of the International Day for Biodiversity 2024 is “Be part of the plan,” meaning the Biodiversity Plan. It’s a call to action for everyone from governments to local communities to businesses and individuals to get involved in protecting biodiversity and find ways to collaborate with each other. 

Everyone has a role to play and can be part of the plan.

UN Environment Program

Let’s take a look at how policy makers can increase biodiversity. 

9 ideas for how policy makers can increase biodiversity

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of things policy makers can do to be part of the Biodiversity Plan all year round at all levels. 

Let’s start with:  

National governments

1. Align national biodiversity strategies and action plans with the Biodiversity Plan

NBSAPs outline how each country will implement the four goals of the Biodiversity Plan. Those are: protect and restore, prosper with nature, share benefits fairly, invest and collaborate.

By passing the necessary laws, regulations, and measures to enact the Plan, you can help to pave the way for a more sustainable future.

For example, Ireland’s NBSAPs aim to adopt a “whole of government, whole of society” approach to biodiversity. Also, to meet urgent conservation and restoration needs, secure nature’s contribution to people, gather evidence for the need for action on biodiversity, and strengthen Irelands’ contribution to international biodiversity initiatives. 

To get inspired by other countries’ NBSAPs, see here. You can also reach out to organisations like Wetlands International to see how to include key environments like wetlands in your NBSAP. 

As well as NBSAPs, you can:  

2. Develop and implement policies and funding to protect and restore habitats

These might be national parks and wildlife reserves; basically, any natural haven for people and animals.

Robust policies and secure necessary funding protect these spaces, making them a valuable resource for people and a testament to your commitment to biodiversity.

Investing in large-scale habitat restoration projects can also help create green jobs.

3. Establish laws and regulations to reduce greenhouse gas and pollution 

This helps safeguard our air, water, and soils not just for current citizens but also future generations who will vote you into office. Implementing plans to meet international climate and sustainability commitments demonstrates global leadership on this urgent issue.

4. Work with business, farmers, educators, and civil society to raise awareness

Engage with stakeholders across all sectors and support efforts to conserve biodiversity and reduce environmental impact of human activities. Support biodiversity education to build long-term popular support for protections amongst new constituencies.

By engaging in dialogue and outreach, you foster a collaborative environment where businesses, farmers, educators, and civil society unite to amplify the impact of biodiversity conservation efforts.

5. Collaborate with other countries and international organizations

For example, to share policies and best practices, strengthen regional frameworks like the EU Biodiversity Strategy, and work towards a global post-2020 biodiversity agreement with teeth. 

International cooperation amplifies your nation's voice and impact.

6. Align regional and local rules and regulations with national ones

Due to habitat loss and pollution, cities are a major threat to biodiversity. But they’re also bustling hubs of cooperation, innovation, and investment that can lead to solutions.

For more ideas on how policy makers can increase biodiversity at local level, you can work with national governments to align local rules and regulations with national policies and the Convention on Biological Diversity. This creates cohesive, impactful conservation strategies that reflect both local and national priorities.

Standardized approaches also prevent a fractured response and promote consistency. Work with local leaders to ensure lower-level plans complement and help achieve your national biodiversity targets. Cities in particular need budgets and planning codes that support nature-positive development.

7. Collaborate with indigenous peoples, local communities, and businesses

Work to promote equitable, sustainable use of natural resouces by indigenous peoples and local communities. Ensuring everyone has access to environmental resources and decision-making empowers them to actively participate in shaping and preserving a biodiverse future

Partner with and empower communities as equals. Respecting traditional knowledge and allocating decision rights maximizes societal bought-in. Work with the private sector to develop sustainable business models and markets for ecosystem services that improve livelihoods.

8. Put human health and ecosystems first in urban and mobility planning

Proposals like expanding green infrastructure, public transit, and pedestrian-friendly streets benefit people and wildlife alike. Learn from shining examples overseas on integrating biodiversity into infrastructure projects.

Providing more public transport and creating more green, liveable spaces in urban and peri-urban areas strengthens both biodiversity and people’s connection to nature. As an example, check out Barcelona’s ‘superblocks’ and ambitious pedestrianisation initiatives. 

9. Incentivize ecosystem conversation 

Use financial tools creatively within your budget to catalyze biodiversity-friendly investments. Look for "wins" by funding initiatives with dual environmental and economic returns that increase political will for nature. For example, create economic tools like subsidies and creation of business opportunities that encourage businesses and communities to invest in and benefit from healthy ecosystems. 

World Biodiversity Day: Do your bit today and all year round 

We all have a role to play in preserving biodiversity. But as elected leaders and decision-makers, the buck starts and stops with you. Through legislation, funding, and high-level coordination, you have the power to drive meaningful and lasting change.

With that in mind, in this post, we outlined 9 suggestions for how policy makers can increase biodiversity by strengthening protections at multiple levels of governance. 

On this International Biodiversity Day–and beyond–we urge you to think beyond the next election campaign and look for opportunities to improve policy and frameworks, work with others, and translate knowledge into clear policy roadmaps.

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