“We are fast approaching many of the earth’s limits” but “turning the tide is still possible”, said the speakers of the October Days for Sustainable Development 2020 dedicated to the topic “Biodiversity loss and pandemic emergency: reverse the trend and build a sustainable future”.

“We share the earth with some 9 million species of plants, animals and fungi but this diversity is diminishing so rapidly that scientists are talking about the sixth mass extinction”, stated Francisco de Paula Coelho, Dean of the EIB Institute, organising the 6th edition of the annual October Days with the University of Luxembourg and CARITAS Luxembourg.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to change our lifestyles”, said Silvia Rova (Ca’ Foscari University); and it “makes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) more relevant than ever”, added Sharon Brooks (UNEP-WCMC) although “we are very far from reaching the targets” (Mauro Randone, WWF). “Ecosystems and their functioning are closely linked to how we will experience pandemics in the future”, warned Josef Settele (UFZ Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research).

Fortunately, consumers and businesses have started to understand that biodiversity is a common good and are beginning to change their behaviour, emphasised the panellists. Consuming local food decreases transportation costs, and eating less meat in Western countries means less soya – whose cultivation causes deforestation – is used to feed cattle in the southern hemisphere. More businesses are taking into account the risks (reputational, legal, regulatory and ultimately financial) posed by biodiversity loss and are incorporating Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards when assessing their activities.

However, “to meet the challenge, a historic paradigm shift will be required”, cautioned Carole Dieschbourg, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development, Luxembourg.

This 6th edition of the October Days for Sustainable Development, organised every year since 2015, took place online on 22 October 2020. Click here to watch the event on YouTube and here for previous editions.

Picture: abc.net.au