New biodiversity targets must set the bar high

10.04.19 | News
Plasterklæring 2019
Birgir Ísleifur Gunnarsson.

Nordic ministers for the environment gathered in Iceland on 10 April. 

The loss of biodiversity is one of the biggest challenges facing mankind. The Nordic ministers for the environment now want to set the bar high and ensure that the voice of young people is heard in negotiations for new UN targets.

International studies show that species are disappearing and that ecosystems are being damaged and destroyed at a pace that threatens the living conditions of our own and future generations.


Under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the nations of the world are working together to stem such losses by preserving nature and transforming the industries that make use of natural resources – primarily agriculture, fishing, forestry, and tourism.

“The CBD is very important, and now that our biodiversity targets are to be revised, it’s vital that we set the bar high for new targets and that we strive even more purposefully to achieve them. We need to focus on the synoptic links between biodiversity and other environmental challenges, including the fight against desertification and climate change,” says Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources of Iceland, which holds the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2019.

Letter to the UN

During this week’s ministerial meeting in Iceland, the Nordic ministers for the environment agreed to send a joint letter to the CBD to address the importance of setting the bar high in order to fulfil the new targets that will take effect after 2020.

The ministers for the environment also decided that the Nordic countries should share their positive experiences in relation to the harmonisation of legislation, policies, and administrative practices for climate and biodiversity targets, as well as participate in the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September 2019 on the topic of nature-based solutions.

Inclusion of young people

Last autumn, the Nordic Council decided to give young people a stronger voice in international negotiations on biodiversity and in following up the new targets.

The Nordic ministers for the environment are requesting that the Nordic Council of Ministers follows up the initiative with a project that ensures that the views of children and young people are taken into account in efforts relating to the new framework for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

“It’s young people who will inherit our planet, so it goes without saying that they should have a say in how we treat it and look after it,” says Guðbrandsson.

Conservation conference

The conservation of natural areas and national parks is one of the most important instruments that national authorities have for preserving natural diversity. This also contributes to the protection of landscapes, large virgin areas of nature, geological diversity, heritage sites, and history. In addition, it is important for tourism, recreation, and the connection between people and nature. The conservation of nature is a priority area of the Icelandic presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2019.

“We’ll be hosting an international conference in the latter half of 2020 where we will bring together the Nordic institutions in charge of managing protected areas,” explains Guðbrandsson.