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Transformative change

Transformative change for biodiversity conservation

Putbus/Insel Vilm, 4 February 2021: The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) concluded in its Global Assessment 2019 that current international activities to address biodiversity loss are insufficient. A fundamental "transformative change" is needed to restore biodiversity and protect nature, it said. The International Academy for Nature Conservation Isle of Vilm (INA) of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ GmbH) and KfW Entwicklungsbank organised a training seminar on this topic for German development cooperation experts from 25 January to 3 February 2021.

At the seminar "Transformative Change for Biodiversity Conservation: Challenges, Concepts and Implementation", around 30 participants explored the concept of transformative change in the context of biodiversity and discussed starting points in German development cooperation to initiate transformative change. Transformative change – meaning a fundamental reorganisation of technological, economic and social systems – is seen by the IPBES experts as a thrust to prevent the impending ecological collapse and devastating consequences for humans and nature. It is necessary, on the one hand, to combat the causes of the decline in biodiversity and, on the other hand, to increasingly use nature-based solutions to tackle societal challenges for example global warming.

Several keynote speakers presented different perspectives on the topic. Josef Settele, Co-Chair of the IPBES Global Assessment Repot 2019, highlighted the urgency for transformative change and used the example of the COVID-19 pandemic to show how much societal well-being depends on intact ecosystems in our globalised world. Ashish Kothari, environmentalists from India, emphasised that transformative change can only emerge from local initiatives when resources are provided. He attributes a special role to traditional and indigenous communities in the social renewal of values and structures. At the same time, he demands a radical reversal of lifestyles from the countries of the Global North. Marco Fritz from the European Commission's Directorate General for Research and Innovation presented the transformative character of the EU Green Deal, highlighting the importance of research, equity and financing. In addition to climate change mitigation and nature-based climate change adaptation measures, he presented the goal of deforestation-free supply chains and a new EU forest policy as examples.

The participants used case studies to examine the transformative character of different interventions as well as barriers and starting points for transformative change. They also developed ideas on how the mandatory instrument of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) can be better used to initiate transformative change and have a stronger impact on other sector policies. Finally, they discussed recommendations for German development cooperation to advance transformative change in this area.

"There needs to be a dialogue on what transformative change, as called for by IPBES, means in practice for different sectors and actors. With our seminar, we brought together new perspectives and approaches, as well as ways in which transformative change in nature conservation can look like," said Andrea Höing from INA.

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