Commentary: Land-strapped Singapore may struggle to fulfil the new global biodiversity deal, but there are other things it can do & More Trending News


The Paris Agreement was cast eight years in the past, and plenty of international locations are solely simply beginning to implement plans to obtain the targets beneath the pact to sort out local weather change.

But now there is a new global settlement to take care of one other planetary disaster – biodiversity loss. And it is again to the drafting board for international locations who’ve been tasked by the United Nations (UN) to formulate motion plans that may cease wildlife species from disappearing. 

If the time taken for motion plans to be made beneath the Paris Agreement was any gauge, it would possibly take years earlier than the new global biodiversity framework is applied. 

But its adoption is an efficient begin. 


The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which nearly 200 international locations adopted in December 2022 at the COP15 biodiversity convention chaired by China and hosted by Canada, has been touted as the biodiversity equal of the Paris Agreement. 

Where the Paris pact goals to restrict global warming to ideally 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial ranges — the threshold to avoiding harsher local weather influence — the biodiversity framework seeks to deal with the harmful lack of plant and animal life.

A 2019 UN report discovered that up to a million plant and animal species face extinction, many inside a long time, due to human actions similar to logging and the conversion of forests to agricultural lands. 

The new framework units out 4 overarching targets for the world to obtain by 2050, similar to rising the space of pure ecosystems, and 23 targets to be achieved in the shorter-term. 

The most attention-grabbing is the goal for international locations to by 2030 preserve 30 per cent of the planet’s land and sea areas — a determine that land-strapped Singapore may discover not possible to meet. 

But there are other ways in which Singapore can act.


The biodiversity or local weather agreements are not legally binding. But they do assist to guarantee accountability if international locations fail to have motion plans aligned with worldwide targets. 

In the local weather house, analysis consortium Climate Action Tracker has a five-point score system that ranks international locations primarily based on how suitable their local weather plans are with the 1.5 deg C temperature goal in the Paris Agreement. 

For two years operating, the local weather watchdog gave Singapore’s local weather plans the lowest score potential, labelling them “critically insufficient”. 

It is probably going that the global biodiversity framework would topic Singapore’s nationwide biodiversity administration plans to extra worldwide scrutiny by worldwide teams. 

The actions Singapore takes to defend biodiversity matter globally for 2 causes. 

One, the nation’s nature areas are a stronghold for sure species of wildlife that are extremely threatened elsewhere. An instance is the critically endangered straw-headed bulbul, a songbird poached to extinction in other international locations. 

Second, Singapore is a transshipment hub for a lot of wildlife merchandise, from endangered rosewood logs to elephant ivory and pangolin scales. Conservation teams have known as on the nation to do extra to disrupt trafficking syndicates.

Singapore can take additional steps to defend native and global wildlife. Here are some methods it can act.


Given the pressures that the two worldwide agreements will placed on land-strapped Singapore, the nation wants to make investments extra in interdisciplinary analysis factoring in ecological and local weather issues. 

Such research can information land use choices right here and assist them rise up to worldwide scrutiny. 

The new biodiversity framework has a provision that permits international locations to act primarily based on nationwide circumstances, but Singapore can even have to persuade observers of the constraints it faces.  

The pressures are already beginning to manifest. 

Last 12 months, nationwide water company PUB mentioned forests in Singapore’s Western Catchment space would have to be cleared to make method for the enlargement of a water therapy plant, a part of a vital infrastructure system for Singapore’s water safety given forecasts of erratic rainfall patterns in a world on hearth. 

Putting photo voltaic panels on water our bodies which were recognized as wildlife corridors might additionally have an effect on biodiversity, as might coastal safety works in opposition to rising sea ranges.

Environmental research in Singapore have tended to focus both on biodiversity – similar to the nationwide effort to map out wildlife corridors all through the nation – or on mitigating local weather influence.

But the two planetary crises are linked, and there wants to be extra interdisciplinary analysis that might help in the improvement of options that hopefully do not come at the expense of both. 

There have been developments on this entrance. 

In October, the Singapore Land Authority and the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions signed an settlement to collaborate on leveraging geospatial knowledge and applied sciences for carbon estimation analysis in Singapore’s nature reserves and other ecosystems. 

This partnership will assist in the evaluation of the quantity of carbon saved in Singapore’s forests and other ecosystems together with major and secondary forests, mangroves in addition to parks and gardens. 

Such research, coupled with other efforts similar to biodiversity surveys, will assist policymakers higher perceive the useful properties of Singapore’s remaining forested areas. 


Another space that Singapore wants to enhance on is outreach and training. 

For nature conservation efforts to really take off in Singapore, society wants to find out how to higher coexist with wildlife. Otherwise, nature conservation may lead to backlash, and put conservationists and biodiversity managers in a bind. 

The poster baby for that is the smooth-coated otter that was as soon as extinct in Singapore. 

The return of those aquatic mammals to the nation’s city waterways has been touted a conservation success. Yet, there are now calls for his or her numbers to be managed, following circumstances of otters consuming costly koi fish and “attacking” people.

Living in concord with nature requires that individuals regulate their behaviours in recognition that we share our nation with species that are totally different from us. 

This contains, amongst other things, not feeding wild animals, understanding how to regulate our bodily postures and stances when wild animals are encountered to stop “attacks”, and slowing down when driving on roads close to nature areas. 

Efforts to preserve nature can solely go thus far with out the buy-in from the normal inhabitants. 


Singapore can additionally leverage its strengths in analysis and monetary providers to assist in the conservation of nature areas abroad. 

The voluntary carbon market can assist to save a few of the world’s tropical forests from the axe.  

By conserving forests as a substitute of slicing them down, emissions from deforestation are averted and every tonne of averted emissions can be offered as a carbon credit score. 

The Republic is already making headway on this space, with carbon credit score buying and selling platform Climate Impact X and Temasek-backed funding agency GenZero channelling funds into nature-based carbon tasks. 

But not all forests can be saved by way of this mechanism as solely areas meant to be reduce down in the first place can qualify as sources of carbon credit. 

Areas which have traditionally low charges of deforestation — so-called high-forest low-deforestation jurisdictions — are assumed to not be beneath any imminent risk of loss, disqualifying them as suppliers of carbon credit. 

Other types of forest-management methods are wanted to be certain that the habitats in such areas are left standing. This is an space of ongoing analysis at the NUS Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions.

Singapore may not be a big emitter of planet-warming emissions, but it has in recent times introduced insurance policies that present its willpower to assist sort out the global local weather disaster.

In phrases of biodiversity, there are nonetheless things that Singapore can do to cease nature from declining additional. 

Nature offers humanity with many advantages, similar to water regulation, crop pollination and respite from city stresses. 

Just as unabated local weather change would have deleterious impacts on societies, not appearing to stymie the lack of nature too would have extreme repercussions on humanity.


Audrey Tan is the science communication and outreach lead at the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions and the Tropical Marine Science Institute. She was a former atmosphere journalist for nearly 10 years.

Commentary: Land-strapped Singapore may struggle to fulfil the new global biodiversity deal, but there are other things it can do

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