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Assemblymember Friedman and California Global Biodiversity Working Group Call for Bold California Leadership at UN Convention on Biodiversity COP 15

For immediate release:

Los Angeles, CA—On Thursday, December 1st, Assemblymember Laura Friedman and a coalition of environmental advocates known as the California Global Biodiversity Working Group held a press conference at the Los Angeles Zoo to raise public awareness and enhance California’s role as the UN’s first and only official US state observer at the COP 15 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The recording is available here.

“Imagine a time when there are no elephants in the wild, no big cats roaming the hills of Los Angeles,” said Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale). “That’s something we have seen happening in our lifetime. But we can stop it. COP 15, and the actions that will be taken there, will give the powers of the world a chance to push back on that destruction.”

The Assemblymember joins California’s delegation to help bring a sense of urgency and greater possibilities for change to the global convention, where countries decide on a global framework of policies to conserve and protect biodiversity.

“California is a remarkable place. We are home to the world’s oldest and largest trees, super blooms that can be seen from space, and oak woodlands that can support thousands of other species,” said Dr. Jun Bando, Executive Director and ecologist at the California Native Plant Society (CNPS). “We have so much to celebrate but also much to lose. We are facing a California that hangs in the balance.”

Many of the speakers spoke on the massive changes we are undergoing, what’s at stake, and the need for strong partnerships.

“At the end of the day global partnerships are what’s most needed in these urgent times. The biodiversity and climate crisis are real, said Jennifer Norris, Deputy Secretary for Biodiversity and Habitat at the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA). “We see the threats manifest around every day in floods, wildfires, drought, extreme heat. It is indisputable that the life support systems of our planet are breaking down. We must work together to tackle these twin issues head on. Protecting biodiversity is not a nice-to-have. It is essential to our health, our well-being and to our very existence.”

“We are undoubtedly in the 6th mass extinction event to occur in our earth’s history, said Dr. Jake Owens, Director of Conservation at the Los Angeles Zoo. “And the effects of this decline in species are already impacting human livelihoods, especially those who are already most at risk. That’s all true. But it is also true that there are living examples of the fact that conservation can succeed. We can save species and halt decline. If we work together to protect species and protect their habitat and to confront the threats of their existence, there’s hope.”

As California is on track to become the 4th largest economy in the world, advocates believe the state has the potential to break some of the stalemates and gridlock on target objectives, summarized here

“Two and a half years ago a coalition of organizations and Assemblymember Laura Friedman, an incredible champion, said, ‘What if we brought together local efforts, state efforts, and global efforts to protect the future of life on earth?’ That is how we came to be here today, said Rosalind Helfand, co-founder of the California Global Biodiversity Working Group. “That is why we have delegations of over 40 people from California who are going to Montreal this month to participate in discussions for a once in a decade plan to save life on earth. That is how important the UN convention on biological diversity is and that is how important California’s potential is as a leader in local and global biodiversity and conservation.”

COP 15 takes place in Montreal, Canada from December 7 – 19. More information can be found here.


Laura Friedman represents the 43rd Assembly District which encompasses the cities of Burbank, Glendale, and La Cañada Flintridge, as well as the communities of La Crescenta and Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, Beachwood Canyon, Los Feliz, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, and Silver Lake