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Dec. 6, 2022

UArizona expert available to discuss biodiversity and conservation ahead of COP15 conference

TUCSON, Ariz. – While many governments, scientists and concerned citizens around the world have made efforts to conserve plant and animal species and promote biodiversity, some experts say it hasn't been enough.

On Wednesday, the United Nations Biodiversity Conference, dubbed COP15, will kick off in Montreal, Canada with the goal of governments around the world agreeing on a new set of targets to guide global action through 2030 to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.

Diana Liverman, a University of Arizona Regents Professor in the School of Geography, Development and Environment, will speak at the conference on Friday about why conservation efforts should prioritize both nature and people.

She is available for phone or Zoom interviews with media before or after the event.

Unprecedented rates of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation can result in species extinction, destabilization of the earth system and the loss of the many benefits people derive from nature, Liverman said. Biodiversity loss is often driven by rising overconsumption, unsustainable technologies, unsustainable economic practices and systems that do not promote care for nature, she said. 

Liverman and UArizona postdoctoral research associate Lauren Gifford co-authored a commentary published Monday in the journal One Earth that suggests efforts to meet biodiversity goals within the next three decades could risk repeating past failures unless changes are made.

"Transformations that address the drivers of biodiversity decline while also ensuring universal well-being are critical," Liverman said. "This includes reducing excess consumption and unsustainable trade and investments. Consumption footprints in richer countries consistently drive biodiversity loss in poorer countries including through our diets, resource imports and the energy use that is causing climate change to harm ecosystems."

Liverman and her co-authors suggest prioritizing solutions that minimize tradeoffs between well-being and conservation. For example, conservation can respect the knowledge and stewardship of Indigenous peoples rather than relocate them out of protected areas, Liverman said.

Liverman and her co-authors are associated with the Earth Commission, convened by Future Earth – an international research program seeking solutions to sustainable development. Liverman was one of 19 leading international experts selected for the commission in 2019 and co-leads a commission working group that focuses on justice and transformation research. The Earth Commission provides scientific guidance to the Global Commons Alliance – a network of cities, businesses and countries seeking science-based action to protect the environment.

Liverman is an expert in climate vulnerability, adaptation and sustainable development. Her research focuses on how climate change affects society, especially the most vulnerable, and how we can adapt. She has also served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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Researcher contact:
Diana Liverman

School of Geography, Development and Environment


Media contact:
Mikayla Mace Kelley
University Communications

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top 50 public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2020 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $761 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 66 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually. For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.

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