A Primer on Economic Growth and Biodiversity Conservation for COP15

| December 13, 2022 | Leave a Comment

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Date of Publication: December 1

Year of Publication: 2022

Publication City: Arlington, VA

Publisher: Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy - CASSE

Author(s): Brian Czech

With COP15 coming up, it’s time to don the old conservation biologist hat and proffer a primer on the relationship between economic growth and biodiversity conservation. The last thing we want is a COP15 devoid of discussion about the fundamental conflict between growing the economy and conserving biodiversity. In fact, the 800-pound gorilla—GDP growth—ought to be front and center.

For the uninitiated, COP15 is the UN Biodiversity Conference, to be held in Montreal from December 7-19. It’s called “COP15” because it’s actually the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The original meeting was at the 1992 Earth Summit. The Conference of the Parties, then, is a vast international, bureaucratic structure that has taken on a lengthy life of its own, similar to that other “COP” structure on climate change, where COP26 was the recent iteration. (And yes, the “good COP bad COP” puns abound, although neither COP has been particularly effective.)

The goal of the parties at COP15—or at least the most serious conveners of the conference—is to adopt the “Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.” My goal right here (and at COP15) is to demonstrate that no framework can be effective as long as the overriding goal of the parties is GDP growth.

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