France's One Planet Summit seeks to reboot green diplomacy after 'lost year'

·2-min read

The biodiversity crisis has top billing as France hosts its One Planet Summit on Monday in an effort to develop a new framework that will protect ecosystems and species.

Held alongside the UN and World Bank, the event will lay out plans of action on managing land and marine protected areas, agro-ecology, financing biodiversity and the fight against deforestation.

The summit is run by the Elysée Palace, with about 10 participants on site and the rest joining online.

Among those taking part are UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, World Bank president David Malpass, Britain’s Prince Charles, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde and World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Crucial year ahead

With the connection between biodiversity loss and human health established by world experts, French President Emmanuel Macron has tasked France with leading the way forward in 2021.

“On the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement, I want France to be able to mobilise the international community once again,” Macron said in September, as he announced the summit would go ahead despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The oceans, the poles, the tropical forests all belong to the common heritage of humanity.”

Given 2020 was largely a “lost year” for the environment, with several major global summits either cancelled or postponed, scientists say the next 12 months will be crucial.

Chile's Cop26 was derailed by the global coronavirus crisis, as was the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which was scheduled for last June in Marseille.

Fear of zoonoses

The Covid-19 pandemic highlights the worrying multiplication of zoonoses – diseases that pass from animals to humans – as a result of increased contact between humans and species whose wild habitats are being destroyed.

“It is true that decision-making has been postponed by a year, which is quite significant in view of the pressures on natural ecosystems today,” said Maud Lelièvre, president of the French committee of the IUCN.

“On the other hand, the Covid-19 pandemic has shown even more clearly that the biodiversity crisis is a major political issue. This health crisis has had at least this revealing effect on many people.”