Luxury, biodiversity and the sixth mass extinction – FHH Journal

“There is no economic and financial stability without respect for nature and without the contribution of nature, because our economies depend on it. This is why we must ensure that economic decisions internalize the damage inflicted by our societies on biodiversity. In her keynote address to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) World Conservation Congress in September 2021 in Marseille, France, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde painted a picture alarming of a planet whose populations of species are declining so rapidly that scientists are now talking about the sixth mass extinction. In the last half billion years, there have been five episodes where life on Earth has almost entirely disappeared, following an intense ice age, volcanic eruptions or the meteorite which crashed in the Gulf of Mexico 65 million years ago to destroy entire species, including dinosaurs.

Two centuries to zero

Now, history is repeating itself, with the difference that this sixth mass extinction is entirely the fault of man and human activities such as hunting, the introduction of invasive species or climate change. And to make matters worse, the current extinction rate is a hundred times higher than normal background extinction levels. Elizabeth Kolbert is the author of The sixth extinction, which won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. In an interview at National geographicshe warns that “wWe are now changing the climate very, very rapidly by geological standards. We are changing the chemistry of all the oceans. We are changing the surface of the planet. We cut down forests, we plant monoculture agriculture, which is not good for many species. We overfish. The list is lengthened increasingly. […] The kind of fundamental question is, can 7.3 – going to 8, going up to 9 billion people – live on this planet with all the species that are still there?

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, winner of the 2021 Rolex Awards for Enterprise, uses the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples to map natural resources and prevent climate conflicts in the Sahel – ©Rolex

The answer to this question is far from reassuring. According to the WWF Living Planet Index, the size of populations of vertebrate species has declined by an average of 68% since 1970. In less than 50 years, between 1970 and 2016, the planet has lost more than two-thirds of its mammals, birds , amphibians , reptiles and fish. Since the pre-industrial era, 85% of wetlands have disappeared. Over the past 30 years, insect populations have declined by 75%. If left unchecked, at the current rate, the sixth mass extinction could occur within the next two hundred years. Never in the history of humanity has the threat of seeing all life disappear from the Earth been so real, with the result that it is now as urgent to act to halt the loss of biodiversity as to act to stem climate change. Indeed, the two are linked because biodiversity plays a key role in climate regulation. The more acidic the oceans become, the more forests we destroy, the more global warming will get out of control. On the other hand, protecting ecosystems could contribute one-third to achieving the Paris Agreement’s 2030 carbon emissions reduction target.

Do actions speak louder than words?

so what are we waiting for? The calendar of events that will take place in 2022 indicates that awareness is not lacking. The One Ocean Summit to be held in Brest, France, in early February will be followed in July, in Lisbon, Portugal, by the United Nations Conference on the Oceans. The United Nations Stockholm+50 Earth Summit in June is described as a springboard to accelerate achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. The COP15 biodiversity conference will meet in April and May in Kunming, China, to agree on a new set of targets, such as protecting at least 30% of Earth’s seas and land from by 2030, including 10% with “absolute protection” status. . Then, in November, COP27 will convene in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to discuss the latest report of the sixth assessment round of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), which will be published at the end of February. . We can also expect legal action when the European Court of Human Rights considers a climate inaction lawsuit brought against 33 countries by six young Portuguese people. A French court decision has already found the French State guilty of not having taken sufficient measures to respect the commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in “L’Affaire du Siècle” (“the of the century”) supported by four NGOs. In the United States, the Supreme Court must consider a West Virginia petition, backed by nineteen Republican-led states, which challenges the authority of the United States Environmental Protection Agency to regulate air emissions .

Nadia Aly, Ocean Photographer of the Year 2020 – ©Blancpain

Unfortunately, too often, these international meetings are little more than a declaration of intent, while the resolutions reached after intense negotiations are often disappointing with their lack of ambition. The IUCN Congress in Marseille adopted 39 resolutions and recommendations (in addition to the 109 adopted in 2020). These include the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples, a motion to reduce the impact of the mining industry, the restoration of primary forests and the protection of human, animal and environmental health. It is now up to individual states to follow through, knowing that policy responses to the environmental emergency have so far fallen short. An example: France, which hosted the IUCN Congress, abstained from voting in favor of a moratorium on deep seabed mining; an attitude that Greenpeace has denounced as going “against history”. Protecting the revenue streams of multinational corporations and kingmakers is one thing; there is no escaping the facts, as Rémy Rioux, Director General of the French Development Agency, pointed out during the IUCN congress: “This goes beyond the financing of natural parks and natural reserves. The entire economic system must change direction. We cannot reasonably hope for the same growth, the same return on investment as thirty years ago. The time has come for a more patient, less profitable world.

Multinationals are mobilizing

It would take an estimated annual investment of $1 trillion to have a positive impact on biodiversity, a figure that currently struggles to reach $150 billion. It is 80% public money, which encourages multinationals to take over, which they clearly have the means to do. This is particularly true for the luxury sector whose operating margins, at 20% on average, are among the most comfortable of all industries. In this context, why not put nature before the interests of shareholders? The future of the planet before short-term profit? As idealistic and simplistic as it sounds, the idea is catching on with luxury giants.

Hublot supports Kevin Pietersen, founder of SORAI Save Our Rhinos Africa and India

Partner of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme, LVMH has made biodiversity one of the pillars of LIFE 360, which is the group’s environmental performance roadmap. “The protection of natural ecosystems has always been a key priority for LVMH, whose activities largely depend on natural raw materials, from flowers, grapes and cotton to leather and precious stones”, comments Antoine Arnault, head of LVMH Image & Environment.The ACT for Biodiversity partnership with UNESCO is a key pillar of our strategy, allowing us to challenge norms, have a positive and lasting impact beyond our supply chain and demonstrate that is possible to reconcile economic development and nature protection.” In concrete terms, LVMH is deploying measurement tools such as the Global Biodiversity Score and is aiming for a net positive contribution to biodiversity by 2030. The group is committed to respecting animal welfare in the supply of raw materials and not to use raw materials from areas with a high risk of deforestation or desertification. She also announced the deployment of regenerative agriculture programs for strategic agricultural raw materials such as grapes, cotton, wool and leather. The objective is to regenerate the equivalent of five million hectares of habitats for fauna and flora by 2030.

Officine Panerai Piccolo Due Madreperla with alligator strap

Similarly, Kering is aiming for a net positive contribution to biodiversity by 2025. The group has endowed a fund of 5 million euros in favor of regenerative agriculture. Its biodiversity strategy outlines steps to minimize biodiversity loss in the group’s global supply chains, support nature and create net positive conservation. Compagnie Financière Richemont, which considers that its activities have no significant impact on biodiversity, nevertheless adheres to a strict code of conduct, citing alligator leather as a “counter-intuitive” example of its action. “The fact that alligators only lay eggs in the wild allows swamps to remain swamps,” says Matthew Kilgariff, CSR director at Richemont. “If it were not so, the landowners of Louisiana would not maintain their natural conditions. They would destroy the biotopes on which 8,000 species, including alligators, depend. The promise of an economic reward, inserted in a regulatory context that guarantees the balance between human activity and biodiversity, has allowed the Louisiana alligator population to grow exponentially in recent decades.

Comments are closed.