Back to all articles
International Day for Biodiversity

Be Part of the Plan: Collaborative Efforts Towards Biodiversity Conservation

International Biodiversity Day: A call to action from Partners for Water

Today, 22 May 2024, marks International Biodiversity Day, highlighting the crucial role of biodiversity in sustaining life on Earth. At Partners for Water, we use this day to emphasize the importance of conserving biodiversity and our commitment to its protection.
We believe collective action from all sectors is essential to address biodiversity loss. To underscore this, we interviewed experts like Claudia Schutte from RVO, Maxime Eiselin from IUCN NL, and Dr. James Byng from TU Delft for their insights on preserving biodiversity.

Dedicated to biodiversity

“Biodiversity means life!” exclaims Claudia Schutte of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). At RVO, Claudia and her team are dedicated to mainstreaming biodiversity in development efforts. They aim to implement nature-inclusive programs and projects that avoid harming biodiversity and actively promote a nature-positive impact. “We are not there yet, but we are dedicated to that mission,” Claudia adds.

Today, humanity faces two major crises: climate and biodiversity crises. Dr. James Byng, the Director at the technical Hortus Botanicus of TU Delft, is most worried that we still know so little about this planet’s biodiversity. Without comprehensive knowledge, conservation efforts are hindered. “Imagine what we can do if we can get botanists, horticulturists, engineers, architects, and designers all working together!” he envisions.


Political will is needed

Maxime Eiselin, Senior Expert in Nature-based Solutions at IUCN NL, stresses the necessity of political will to integrate biodiversity into policies, regulations, planning, and development processes. “To structurally reduce biodiversity loss, political will is needed at all levels of government to ensure the integration of biodiversity in decision-making,” he explains. Claudia Schutte agrees, noting that short-term ambitions often overshadow long-term ecological goals, posing a significant challenge to achieving the targets for 2030 and goals for 2050 set by the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (K-M GBF).


Challenges and successes

Biodiversity-positive interventions require time to yield results, as nature takes time to restore. Despite these challenges, successes like species recovery documented in the IUCN Green Status of Species and practical conservation efforts in the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas offer optimism. When discussing biodiversity, many forget that genetic diversity is just as crucial as ecosystem diversity. Adding greenery to cities is beneficial, but climate change is vital to ensuring genetic diversity in urban trees. Municipalities and communities must utilise this growing knowledge.


Ambitious goals at COP16

At the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity COP16 in October and November in 2024, countries will submit their updated plans for contributing to the K-M GBF using their National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (NBSAPs). “The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We’ll see at COP17 2025 if combining all these NBSAPs will be enough to reach our agreed goals at the global level,” says Claudia. Maxime highlights the upcoming negotiations on financial mechanisms, digital sequence information, and the monitoring framework, which are crucial to reaching the ambitious targets of the K-M GBF.


Act now

“Transformative action is essential because we cannot simply halt this mass extinction,” stresses Maxime. Solving the biodiversity issue requires collective action from stakeholders, including companies, NGOs, governments, and knowledge institutions. “Surround yourself with ambitious partners to drive broader mainstreaming in society,” he advises.

Legislation and financial structures are pushing companies towards sustainable business models. A report from DNB (De Nederlandse Bank) and PBL (Plan Bureau Leefomgeving, “Indebted to Nature” (2020), highlights the risks financial institutions face when funding companies with negative biodiversity impacts. Companies must adapt their operations to government policy and changing consumer preferences to reduce the damage to biodiversity.


Nature’s Pride for biodiversity conservation

Nature’s Pride has been working on an efficient, fair, and sustainable food chain since 2001. Natures Pride: “We’re strongly committed to people’s well-being, responsible water management, and climate change mitigation and resilience. As part of our new ambitions for the care of people and nature, we’ve included biodiversity conservation into our cultivation areas. Last year, we were the first to successfully pilot GLOBALG.A.P.’s BioDiversity add-on outside of Europe together with two of our dedicated partner growers in South Africa”. For over two decades ZZ2, avocado grower in South Africa, has been farming according to the ‘Natuurboerdery’ concept. “We have implemented a wide array of practices that protect and enhance biodiversity in and around our farms. The pilot we did with Nature’s Pride helped us to strengthen on-farm biodiversity practices and to independently verify and formally document these best practices. We are now expanding the use of biodiversity assessments and action plans as a standard practice to all our farms”, says Clive Garrett, Marketing Manager at ZZ2.


Knowledge is key

“We all have a part to play, both individually and collectively, whether here in The Netherlands or abroad,” says Maxime Eiselin. However, knowledge is often fragmented and undervalued. Indigenous knowledge, in particular, plays a vital role in identifying and preserving local flora and fauna. Programs like “Reversing the Flow” integrate scientific and indigenous knowledge, highlighting the importance of valuing diverse perspectives. “By working together and appreciating different types of knowledge, we can strengthen and accelerate implementation efforts,” says Claudia.

“Biodiversity should not be an afterthought but a starting point in designing resilient living environments.”

James Byng

Biodiversity as a starting point

“Humanity depends on biodiversity for its survival,” stresses James. “From medicines to food to construction materials, it all starts with biodiversity.” If we can sustainably document, conserve, and utilise biodiversity, humanity can reach a turning point. With the increase in global population and greater demand for ecosystem services, the current generation may be the last to have the chance to make a significant impact. Botanical gardens like TU Delft Hortus Botanicus are crucial in preserving biodiversity and advancing plant research, contributing to sustainable practices like coastal mangrove conservation. The TU Delft Hortus Botanicus, under James Byng’s leadership, exemplifies this by collecting global plant species for study and conservation.


Local action for greater good

An inspiring example is the mountainous Atewa forest in Ghana, which IUCN NL and its local partners aim to preserve. Fifty-three communities living on the forest’s forest’s fringes rely on it for their livelihoods, and it serves as a vital water source for over five million people. However, the forest is at risk due to plans for large-scale bauxite mining. Through sharing knowledge and raising awareness among policymakers in Ghana, strides have been made to change the mining plans. “The Atewa forest demonstrates how local advocacy can secure biodiversity and water resources for millions,” says Maxime.


Biodiversity is up to you

As citizens, engaging with this global issue might seem challenging. Take small steps in your immediate environment: green your garden, remove tiles, set up insect hotels, and plant native organic plants to attract and support insects. Also, become a more responsible consumer: cut back on animal-based products, avoid unnecessary purchases, and opt for second-hand items or sustainable alternatives when possible. Claudia:  “Remember, we’re all in this together—businesses, governments, NGOs, knowledge institutes, and each of us as individuals.”


The way forward

Looking ahead to the COP16 in Cali, there is optimism for progress in biodiversity conservation. However, tangible results require collective effort and political will. Despite the complexities of biodiversity conservation, one thing is clear: collective action is imperative. Governments, businesses, NGOs, and individuals must unite to sustainably use, conserve, and restore our planet’s biodiversity. By embracing collaboration, valuing diverse perspectives, and prioritizing long-term sustainability, we can be part of the plan to safeguard biodiversity for future generations. Together, we can actively work towards a healthier, more resilient planet.


Mark your calender for a Biodiversity event!

On 1 October 2024, Partners for Water will organise an event focused on biodiversity. More information will follow soon, so keep an eye on our event page.

Sign up for the newsletter