'We need system change'

| 24th February 2020
Global rescue plan to stop extinction is 'hopelessly weak and inadequate'.


A draft global plan to halt the collapse of nature will not protect vulnerable communities or stop the Earth’s sixth mass extinction, claims Friends of the Earth International.

The call comes as governments meet in Rome for the first time today to work on a “Paris-style” United Nations agreement that will eventually be agreed in October. 

The plan will replace an existing ten year strategy which was barely implemented and dramatically failed to halt the loss of nature.


Last year an intergovernmental panel of scientists called for an urgent and fundamental shift away from growth-based economies after reporting that more species are threatened with extinction than ever before. 

Governments from around the world will work all week in Rome on a new plan. However, the first draft, which was published in January, lacks ambition and urgent targets for saving people and nature. In particular, it fails to address the root causes of the collapse of nature – the over-consumption of resources by wealthier countries, industrial agriculture and an economic system that drives further destruction and greater inequality.

This requires a just transition everywhere, with obligation for finance from wealthy countries to the global South.

The plan also lacks legally binding mechanisms to enforce an agreed plan. The main failure of the existing plan was that governments mostly ignored it without repercussions.

It does not have a plan to halt damaging practices such as mining, commodity crops or pesticide use, and it allows for nature to be destroyed as long as it is saved elsewhere – which would lead to corporations putting a price on nature and offsetting their damage by paying to save it in another place. This will inevitably lead to a financial market in saving and destroying biodiversity and ignores the vital role of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in defending ecosystems.

Moreover, the plan fails to put communities – and especially Indigenous Peoples – at the heart of nature protection. Likewise, mentions of justice, equity and poverty reduction are missing, as is any obligation for wealthy countries to provide resources to support the Global South.

System change 

Nele Mariën, forests and biodiversity coordinator at Friends of the Earth International, said: “The current draft plan is hopelessly weak and inadequate. It won’t prevent the sixth mass extinction or build a fairer and safer future.

"It requires binding rules to ensure we start living within planetary boundaries, reduce inequality, address corporate conflict of interest and ensure rights for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. In short we need system change."

Friedrich Wulf, international nature campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “Time has almost run out.

"We need an urgent plan to save humanity and this is not it. National governments need to step up and reverse our growth-obsessed, nature-wrecking economies if we are going to stand any chance of stopping the collapse of the natural world.

"Rich countries such as those in the EU – who continue to contribute most to the destruction through their over-consumption and damaging corporations – have a responsibility to play a much stronger role.”  

This Article

This article is based on a joint press release from Friends of the Earth International, Friends of the Earth Europe and the Centre for Environmental Justice-Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka.

Image: Rainforest Action Network, Flickr


The Ecologist has a formidable reputation built on fifty years of investigative journalism and compelling commentary from writers across the world. Now, as we face the compound crises of climate breakdown, biodiversity collapse and social injustice, the need for rigorous, trusted and ethical journalism has never been greater. This is the moment to consolidate, connect and rise to meet the challenges of our changing world. The Ecologist is owned and published by the Resurgence Trust. Support The Resurgence Trust from as little as £1. Thank you. Donate here