The prospects for Earth’s biological diversity look increasingly bleak. The urgency of global efforts to preserve biodiversity long predates the COVID-19 crisis, but the pandemic has added new dimensions to the problem. Conservation funding from nature tourism has all but disappeared with international travel restrictions, wildlife poaching is on the rise, and various political regimes have used the crisis as an excuse to roll-back and circumvent environmental regulations. These developments are products of the dominant mode of natural resource “management” via technocratic control that is at the core of global socio-ecological crises.
Even worse, perhaps, a series of key international meetings planned throughout 2020 to establish a Global Biodiversity Framework to guide conservation efforts through the next decade have been cancelled or postponed. Yet, while the delay developing this framework leaves conservation’s future even more uncertain, it also presents a valuable opportunity. The COVID-19 crisis has made it clear that any hope of preserving the planet’s rapidly dwindling natural systems and species depend on our capacity to use this extended period of reflection and discussion to push the Biodiversity Framework, as well as national- and local-level policies and practices, in a radical new direction.