The convention of the United Nations of Biological Diversity signed its first treaty to protect biodiversity at the Rio Earth Summit of 1992. Since then, the rising rates of domestic consumption and international trade have posed new challenges for all 188 countries to reduce their global-extinction footprint. The Integrated Sustainability research group at the University of Sydney has recently raised this issue. Professor Arne Geschke has been at the forefront of the argument highlighting “local intervention may be insufficient” for protecting biodiversity whilst there’s an increase of producing and consuming products like coffee from afar.
Globally, 39% of the domestic consumption of food, beverages, and agriculture is currently responsible for driving the extinction of up to one million species – with many on the course to extinction over the next decades.
Other species such as the Malagasy Giant Jumping rat in Madagascar are also under threat, revealing that the extinction risk to species isn’t specific to one global region. The multiplicity of these threats to biodiversity across the world are ultimately threatening the balance of healthy biomes which humans are also inhabiting. Ultimately, with a smaller amount of species to graze land, reproduce, and cultivate biomes, climate change may not be the only issue threatening the environment which we inhabit. Globally, 39% of the domestic consumption of food, beverages, and agriculture is currently responsible for driving the extinction of up to one million species – with many on the course to extinction over the next decades
America alone is currently driving 24% of the global extinction footprint for the Nombre de Dios Streamside Frog in Honduras.
Specifically in wealthier countries like the UK, USA, and other European countries, the growth of vast transnational coffee enterprises such as Starbucks, Costa, Pret a Manger, and many others are not slowing down. The effects of buying from these enterprises for people’s casual morning coffee run are ensuring that the 29.5% of International Trade’s global extinction risk is speeding up, adding to the issue of climate sustainability. Caffeine and the luxury of coffee are a great source of income for corporations too, meaning that eliminating it from the market entirely wouldn’t be viable for both business and individuals’ caffeine-based lifestyle. America alone is currently driving 24% of the global extinction footprint for the Nombre de Dios Streamside Frog in Honduras.
To solve the issue of domestic consumption like that of coffee, recent developments have begun to propose solutions. A key project has been led by the research team at the University of Sydney, introducing the non-normalised Species Threat Abatement and Restoration (nSTAR) who are using the project as a metric to measure the extinction risk to species. The project quantifies the carbon footprints of all 188 countries to link it to the extinction risk of global consumption patterns. Therefore, where a high consumption of coffee may surpass its footprint in wealthier countries, nSTAR can create an image for what countries need to do to reduce their coffee consumption – or at least to find solutions to reduce their extinction footprint around coffee consumption.
The United Nations has been more active in officialising long-term goals and projects to ensure the security of biodiversity. The COP-15 conference recently took place from 25 April to 8 May, the theme of which was ‘Ecological Civilisation: Build A Shared Future for All Life On Earth’. It has reaffirmed new targets for 2030 such as reforming, repurposing, and perhaps destroying systems and materials that are harmful for biodiversity. This is with an overarching goal of reducing material incentives globally by $500 billion per year. Other targets include a 30% protection bracket (at least) for land and sea biomes as well as a goal of 90% reduced extinction rates by 2050. Though not legally binding, the United Nation’s continued dedication to build on its 1992 Rio Summit shows the topic of bio-diversity remains prevalent and the challenges of the domestic consumption of products like coffee are a present issue.
The organisation’s ‘Theory’ of Change lays out the basis of how countries might adapt its extinction-reduction models. Firstly they are defining long-term goals of extinction reduction and secondly, they are using a process of mapping backwards to identify the necessary actions required to reduce the threat of species extinction.
As the extinction of species grows closer, the issue of climate may become integral with a need to maintain biomes and with each coffee purchase, the simple luxuries of coffee and other domestic products may need to be second guessed. What remains on the agenda for reducing our global extinction footprint lies with us all: economically, politically, and through our personal choices. What is next for businesses and innovation to correct species extinction over the next decades remains uncertain, but what is certain is that change may be needed quicker than we think.