The international conference on nature opens in Marseille today, 3 September 2021, is the main topic of many French newspapers. Historic floods, droughts, huge forest fires… The “collapse” of ecosystems is threatening the global economy. This is the obsession that permeates the conference of the IUCN, the most prestigious organisation in the environmental field.

Le Monde ran the headline: “Biodiversity: a conference to limit disasters”. The Catholic daily La Croix ran the headline: “Biodiversity, a living good”. The right-wing daily Le Figaro also mentioned “A conference in Marseille to save nature”. The business newspaper Les Echos devoted numerous articles to the subject, with the main profile: “Biodiversity: governments and non-governmental organisations on the same front”.

Three key stories behind the term ‘Biodiversity
The International Conference on Nature, organised every four years by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (postponed for a year due to the pandemic), has ‘Biodiversity’ as its main theme. Biodiversity” is mainly about efforts to protect the future of flora and fauna that are in danger of extinction, with about one million species extinct in recent decades.

According to La Croix, behind this somewhat abstract and specialised term lie urgent orders of action, “three issues of vital importance” for humanity: climate, health and food.

Natural ecosystems are not only valuable “carbon storage sinks” that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that warm the Earth, but “natural ecosystems (…) are the necessary solution to climate challenges”, helping human societies to better adapt to climate change, as the French presidency stressed. Protecting biodiversity, protecting wildlife and protecting forests also means preventing the emergence of numerous infectious diseases and pandemics, of which the Covid-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 corona virus is one example. Up to 75% of infectious diseases that attack human society are of animal origin. Protecting biodiversity also makes an important contribution to global food security, where up to one billion people are constantly hungry.

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