FAO in North America

Taking the temperature at COP15 with the #ExtinctionThermometer

A new art installation from Montréal artist shows the risks of biodiversity loss

Washington, DC - As delegates from around the world gather in Montréal for the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), a giant #ExtinctionThermometer highlights the interconnection between climate change and biodiversity loss.

This art installation, conceived by the multidisciplinary visual artist and activist Benjamin Von Wong, challenges observers to grapple with the possible consequences of ignoring climate change and the continued loss of biodiversity. Across the giant thermometer, the 1.5 degree Celsius limit for global warming is clearly marked with a yellow and black “Caution” ribbon, which would be just beyond the reach of a young child. Beyond that line, embedded within the artwork are the bones of species from across North America that we stand to lose – the caribou, grizzly, sea otter, prairie dog, moose, mountain lion, wolf, snowshoe hare and beaver.

“Biodiversity loss is a complex topic. The implications of continued biodiversity loss for humanity, especially our food and nutrition security, can be hard to grasp. We need to tell the story of what it means if we don’t protect our land, water, air and biodiversity. Benjamin Von Wong’s piece tells the story, even if it may be uncomfortable to see,” explains Jocelyn Brown Hall, Director of the FAO North America liaison office. “Many of the targets that will be established here at COP15 will be directly related to agriculture and food systems. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stands ready to facilitate and support the transformation of agrifood systems to improve food and nutrition security."

A key objective of COP15 is the adoption of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), which will outline what countries need to do, individually and collectively, to conserve, protect, restore and sustainably manage biodiversity.

Sustainable use of biodiversity is crucial to food and agriculture

If managed sustainably, agrifood systems will contribute to the conservation and restoration of biodiversity. In turn, the sustainable use of biodiversity has positive impacts on the resilience, efficiency and sustainability of these systems, while addressing climate change and ecosystem degradation.

“Ecosystems are being pushed beyond breaking point. The adoption of an ambitious post-2020 Framework that strengthens the transformation of agrifood systems is essential for food security, tackling climate challenges and sustainable economic growth, for prosperity, well-being and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” according to FAO Deputy Director-General, Maria Helena Semedo.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has adopted a strategy on biodiversity to accelerate efforts to promote sustainable agricultural practices and to limit the detrimental impacts they can have across the food chain. Utilizing existing tools and developing innovative solutions for agrifood systems will be critical to the success of the post-2020 Framework.

Experts from FAO are joining representatives from 196 countries in Montréal for the biodiversity summit to call for a more proactive approach to halt the ongoing loss of the natural world.

The #ExtinctionThermometer, supported by FAO as well as Activism Studio, can be viewed at the Quai Alexandria in the Public Action Zone on the Grand Quay of the Port of Montréal starting Friday, December 9 at 6pm. Entry to the zone is free of charge. Registration to the COP15 Public Action Zone Tickets

About the artist:

Benjamin Von Wong's work lies at the intersection of fantasy and photography and combines everyday objects with shocking statistics. It has attracted the attention of corporations like Starbucks, Dell, and Nike and has generated over 100 million views for causes like ocean plastics, electronic waste, and fashion pollution. He has created work for the United Nations, the Canadian Government, and large NGOs like Greenpeace.

Benjamin is a co-founder of the Activism Studio which is a non-profit laboratory unlocking the potential of art to power the movements and shift culture.  https://activism.studio

#ExtinctionThermometer website

Additional information:

FAO Framework for Action on Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture: https://www.fao.org/cgrfa/resources/news/detail-events/fr/c/1513048/

Follow FAO at COP15: https://www.fao.org/events/detail/fao-at-cop15/en