A 10-Year-Old Commitment to Biodiversity Misses Virtually All of its Targets

Coral Reefs restoration at the coast of Banaire in the
Caribbean. Credit: UN Environment Programme

By Thalif Deen

The coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of over
one million people worldwide and destabilized the global economy,
also upended the UN’s ambitious socio-economic goals, including
the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.

While extreme poverty rates have fallen in past years, says
Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, “it is projected that
between 70 and 100 million people could be pushed into extreme
poverty as a result of the pandemic”.

And by the end of 2020, she warned, an additional 265 million
people could face acute food shortages.

According to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, ocean levels
are rising quicker than expected, “putting some of our biggest
and most economically important cities at risk”. More than
two-thirds of the world’s megacities are located by the sea. And
while the oceans are rising, they are also being poisoned,”
Guterres warned.

And as the planet burns, one million species in the world’s
eco-system are in near-term danger of extinction.

Meanwhile, the international community has failed to live up to
its commitments – and meet all of its targets — on

Just ahead of the first-ever UN Biodiversity Summit on September
30, Volkan Bozkir, President of the General Assembly lamented the
fact that none of the 20 biodiversity targets agreed by Member
States in Aichi, Japan a decade ago, “have been fully

“Words and good intentions are clearly not enough. They will
not clean the oceans, save elephants, or prevent deforestation.
Only our actions can do that,” he declared.

The recently-released United Nations’ Global Biodiversity Outlook 5
reveals that biodiversity is declining at record rates, and only
six of the 20 goals laid out by 2010’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets
have been “partially achieved.”

The study shows some areas of progress, but it found “the
natural world is suffering badly and getting worse.” And if the
world continues on its current trajectory, biodiversity– and the
services it provides– will continue to decline, jeopardizing the
achievement of the UN’s highly-touted Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs), it warned.

Asked for the reasons for this shortfall, Dr. Anne Larigauderie,
Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Platform on
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) told IPS the Global
Outlook confirms and builds on the findings of the IPBES Global
Assessment Report – including the new report-card on the progress
towards the Aichi Biodiversity targets.

“One of the reasons for this shortfall is that we,
collectively, including Governments, but also the private sector,
have failed to seriously address the direct causes of biodiversity
loss, including land use change (deforestation, urban sprawl etc.),
overexploitation of resources (terrestrial and marine), and climate
change, as well as the underlying causes, which relate to our
economy, institutions, governance, and which are all deeply
anchored in our values and behaviors.”

“We need to better understand and address the causes of these
losses and act upon them. Another main reason is that
considerations about biodiversity and nature’s contributions to
people have still not been brought to the centre of
decision-making,” she noted.

Dr. Larigauderie pointed out that the “health of our natural
environment very directly influences almost every aspect of
development – from food and water security, to livelihoods,
health and even peace and security”.

To achieve SDGs requires nature to be a key consideration in
decisions, policies, investments and actions across all parts of
the economy and society.

“This is how we can achieve the transformative change needed
to address our increasingly frayed relationship with the rest of
nature”, she declared.

Meanwhile, a study released mid-September noted that, since
1993, and the Convention on Biodiversity, up to four dozen animal
species have been saved.

This was done, said the President of the General Assembly, with
local, national and international action and included habitat
protection, species reintroduction, and legal protections, amongst
other efforts.

“This demonstrates that we can deliver”, he declared.

The goal is to build political momentum for the Convention on
Biodiversity’s Conference of the Parties (COP15), in Kunming,
China in 2021, where world leaders will agree to an ambitious plan
of action on biodiversity.

“Kunming needs to turn biodiversity into a household concern
and political issue. Everyone must realize the risks of
inaction,” said Bozkir.

Asked how devastating has been the impact of the coronavirus
pandemic on the state of biodiversity worldwide, Dr. Larigauderie
said direct impacts of the pandemic on global biodiversity are not
yet well-researched – “but we are all aware of anecdotal
evidence, both positive and negative, such as reports about the
resurgence of nature in some areas and improved air quality, as
well as increased waste related to disposal of personal protective
equipment and the unfortunate and unjustified targeting of some
species of wild animals”.

“But the way you phrase the question is also indicative of a
challenge – the impact of COVID-19 on people and economies cannot
be separated from a proper analysis of its impact on biodiversity,
because the two are totally interlinked”.

She argued that lockdown has essentially halted eco-tourism in
many areas, not only damaging livelihoods but also massively
reducing resources available to conservation.

Stimulus packages to drive economic recovery contain within them
either nature-positive measures or more regressive ones that could
in fact raise the risk of future pandemics by accelerating nature
loss, she declared.

IPS: What are your expectations of the UN’s first-ever Summit
on Biodiversity which is aimed at providing political direction and
momentum for the development of a post-2020 global biodiversity

Dr.Larigauderie: To achieve the SDGs requires the implementation
of an ambitious and well-resourced post-2020 biodiversity
framework. The UN Nature Summit is the best opportunity for
decision-makers in Government, the private sector and civil society
to already raise the levels of ambition for the negotiations next
year and to recommit to policies, decisions and actions informed by
the best-available science and expertise.

IPS: How adequate is the proposed funding for actions related to
biodiversity– estimated at between $78 – $91 billion per
year– compared with the estimated $500 billion spent on fossil
fuels and other subsidies that cause environmental degradation?

Dr. Larigauderie: The IPBES mandate is to provide evidence and
policy options for better-informed decisions – we do not
prescribe or make normative judgements. That said, the IPBES
Assessment Report on Land Degradation and Restoration found, for
instance, that on average, the benefits of restoration are 10 times
higher than the costs, and, for some regions the cost of inaction
in the face of land degradation is at least three times higher than
the cost of action.

The IPBES Global Assessment Report also identified the removal
of harmful incentives and the promotion of nature-positive ones as
some of the specific possible actions that would drive
transformative change for people and nature. Harmful subsidies
include, for instance, Government grants for pesticides, to
unsustainable fishing, and to fossil fuels, which all drive the
loss of biodiversity.

IPS: Any indications of the new set of targets currently under
negotiation, for 2021-2030, and to go before the 15th Conference of
Parties of the Convention of Biological Diversity, scheduled to be
held in Kunming, China, in May 2021?

Dr. Larigauderie: These are exactly the discussions that have
started and will continue under the Open-Ended Working Group on the
post-2020 biodiversity framework and which have already resulted in
a publicly available zero-draft of the framework to be negotiated,
and subsequent comments thereon.

The post
A 10-Year-Old Commitment to Biodiversity Misses Virtually All of
its Targets
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
A 10-Year-Old Commitment to Biodiversity Misses Virtually
All of its Targets