UN 2020 biodiversity report lousy, but there is still hope

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One million plant and animal species are risk of extinction, and global efforts to halt biodiversity loss do not go far enough to protect them, according to a new report from the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. “Biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate, and the pressures driving this decline are intensifying,” Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, told reporters at a press conference Tuesday.

An abundant and diverse population of insects, birds, mammals, microbes and vegetation is essential not only for maintaining ecosystems, but for everything from decomposition and pollination to medicines and agriculture. . For all these reasons, the loss of species threatens human survival. In 2010, the CBD set 20 global biodiversity targets, the Aichi Targets, which were to be achieved by 2020. All UN countries except the United States have signed on to help meet the goals. None of them have been achieved, according to the Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 report, although six were partially successful. While this is worrying, the report’s authors found reasons for optimism during the press conference: It is not too late to act, ”said environmentalist Anne Larigauderie. “In fact, GBO 5 provides many encouraging examples where, when action has been taken it has led to success and where biodiversity is rebounding.”

Missed and mixed marks

Some of the advances highlighted by the report include the rate of deforestation, which has declined by about a third over the past decade. Some results were more mixed. Objective 19 was to improve knowledge and technologies related to biodiversity. Although there have been improvements in data sharing and generation and advances in modeling, yet “major imbalances remain in the location and taxonomic orientation of studies and monitoring” and “application. knowledge about biodiversity in decision-making is limited ”, so that the objective was only partially met.

Target 3 aimed to eliminate or reorganize subsidies harmful to biodiversity, such as those that lead to overfishing. Few countries have even identified which of their subsidies contribute to biodiversity loss and even fewer have started removing them, according to the report.

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Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark

There was a sense of urgency in the report, especially because its authors found that when measures were put in place, such as catch limits in fisheries, the positive effects were evident. “You can bring back species that are almost on the brink with good conservation measures, but once they’re gone, they’re obviously gone forever,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of the environmental program at the ‘UN.

The 20 CBD targets were broad and ambitious, but Larigauderie said that “if we have failed to meet all the targets, it is really primarily because of a lack of political will”. Many countries have focused on growing economies and feeding their populations, without necessarily considering sustainable ways to do so. The report recommends eight major transitions to protect biodiversity, including overhauling the agricultural system, shifting to primarily plant-based diets, and accelerating the phase-out of fossil fuels. The focus is not only on protecting existing ecosystems, but also on restoring those that are lost. The report calls for “transformative change,” a radical overhaul of economies and policies.

What can you do?

In 2021, world leaders will create a new set of biodiversity targets for the next decade. “Ensuring universality and ensuring that all stakeholders are involved and engaged in the development of the post-2020 framework are, once again, part of the lessons to be learned,” said Maruma Mrema. While the previous goals relied mainly on the implementation of changes by governments, the new ones will involve more contributions and actions from indigenous groups, youth-led movements and other vulnerable populations, a- she declared.

Instead of waiting for the fashion industry to make better, more sustainable choices, for example, individuals can be more aware not only of what they buy, but how often they buy. “I think we also have to play a role, even as individuals, in terms of pressure on the production system,” she said, which can then influence market trends.

Of course, individuals can only have a limited impact without government and industry monitoring. Andersen says the scientific community must work with business to create sustainability goals. In this way, the products could have clear labels so that people know the impact on biodiversity of a new computer or jacket. “Now wouldn’t that be the day?” she says. “This is where we have to get to.”

Frequently cited authors of the report COVID-19[female[feminine, because the biodiversity crisis increase the chances more pandemics. Reopening the economy gives the world the opportunity to do so in a more sustainable way, Andersen said, and “the way we prioritize and direct our resources will ensure human, economic and environmental health for generations to come or lead us. on the way to the grave. it brought us – brought with it the suffering that we see today. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have no choice but to take the right path, and I hope we will. “

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