As Planet Burns, One Million Species in World’s Eco-System in Danger of Extinction

By Thalif Deen

When UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed the
193-member General Assembly last December, he focused on the
smoldering climate crisis– pointing out that the last five years
have been the hottest ever recorded.

Ice caps are melting, he said, In Greenland alone, 179 billion
tonnes of ice melted in July. Permafrost in the Arctic is thawing
70 years ahead of projections. Antarctica is melting three times as
fast as a decade ago.

“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
According to a new survey of 222 leading scientists from 52
countries conducted by Future Earth, there are five global risks
— failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation; extreme
weather events; major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse;
food crises; and water crises. And four of them — climate change,
extreme weather, biodiversity loss, and water crises — were
deemed as most likely to occur?

Asked about the impending disaster, Dr. Anne Larigauderie,
Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Platform on
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) told IPS that climate
change, extreme weather events, biodiversity loss and food and
water crises are already happening, primarily as a result of human
activities, and they are deeply impacting the lives of people
around the world.

“It is therefore imperative for the science and expert
community to make their voices heard – as Future Earth has done,
building on the key messages of the IPBES Global Assessment Report
– to provide decision-makers with the evidence and options they
need to act.”

Of real significance, however, is that it is not just the voice
of science that is now speaking up for nature – consider that the
global business community has also become increasingly vocal about
the risks of the nature crisis and the need for evidence-informed

For example, in the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Risk
Report, the top five perceived risks are all environmental and
“systems-level thinking,” as called for.

Decision-makers have a wide range of options across sectors,
systems and scales to shift to more sustainable pathways.

Dr. Anne Larigauderie

One million species face extinction, but the solutions to the
nature crisis are still within our reach, said Dr Larigauderie, in
an interview with IPS.

In the run-up to October’s historic UN Biodiversity
Conference, officials and experts will convene at FAO headquarters,
Rome, 24-29 Feb. for negotiations on the initial draft of a
landmark post-2020 global biodiversity framework and targets for
nature to 2030.

The new framework will be considered by the 196 Parties to the
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the 2020 UN
Biodiversity Conference
(CBD COP15), Kunming, China, 15-28

Excerpts from the interview:

IPS: How many of the 20 Aichi biodiversity
targets—including the integration of biodiversity values into
national and local development and poverty reduction strategies –
have been achieved so far/will still be achieved even as the 2020
deadline is looming over the horizon?

Dr Larigauderie: The IPBES Global Assessment
Report shows that, of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, good
progress has been made towards components of just 4 target,
moderate progress towards components of 7 more targets, with poor
progress towards all components of 6 other targets. Conservation
actions, including protected areas, efforts to manage unsustainable
use and address the illegal capture and trade of species, and the
translocation and eradication of invasive species, have been
successful in preventing the extinction of some species.

Good progress has been made on less than 10% of the 54 total
elements. On 39% of the elements, poor progress and even some loss
of progress has been seen.

As a result, the state of nature overall continues to decline,
with 12 of 16 indicators showing significantly worsening

It has never been more urgent for decision-makers at every level
to have the best evidence and heed the warnings of science, for the
decisions made now will have direct implications for our shared

IPS: How is the world doing on the Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs), especially as regards the impact of the
nature crisis and the likely missing of most of the Aichi
Biodiversity Targets on efforts to achieve these?

Dr Larigauderie: Human development depends
directly on nature – from food and water security, to jobs,
health and general well-being. The rapid declines we are seeing now
in biodiversity, and many of nature’s contributions to people,
mean that most international development goals will not be achieved
– unless we make fundamental, system-wide changes. The IPBES
Global Assessment Report found that 80% of assessed SDG targets
will be undermined by negative trends in nature.

The Sustainable Development Goals and the Aichi Biodiversity
Targets are closely connected, with many of the Aichi Targets
having been integrated into the SDGs.

Our failure to achieve the Aichi Targets does not bode well for
efforts to achieve the SDGs – unless we see fundamental,
system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and
social factors, including paradigms, goals and values – to tackle
the direct and the indirect drives of the nature crisis.

Besides clear connections to climate, oceans and land, the
nature crisis has direct implications for poverty, hunger, health,
water, and cities in addition to more a complex relationship to
education, gender equality, reducing inequalities, and promoting
peace and justice.

Without transformative change addressing both the direct and
indirect drivers of biodiversity loss, we will not achieve the
Sustainable Development Goals.

IPS: How will the rising global population — from the
current 7.6 billion to an estimated 8.6 billion in 2030, with 43
cities reaching over 10 million each by 2030– have an impact on
biodiversity targets? There are already warnings that the increase
in population will have negative implications on the demand for
resources, including food, infrastructure and land

Dr Larigauderie: Population growth is a major
indirect driver of change in nature. Since 1970, the human
population has more than doubled, but at the same time, per capita
consumption has also risen sharply [15% since 1980], the global
economy has grown nearly fourfold, global trade has grown tenfold,
and the environmental and social costs of production and
consumption have shifted away from those most directly

In other words, population growth is important but is only one
of many key indirect drivers of change underpinning the
unsustainable use of our natural resources. Other important
indirect drivers include economy and technology, institutions and
governance and conflicts, all of these being dependant on our
values and behaviours.

Addressing all of the indirect drivers, including population
growth, in an integrated and holistic way, will best enable us to
achieve our shared global development goals.

Indeed, as the co-chairs of the CBD’s Open-ended Working Group
on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework note, “the
wide-ranging changes that are needed to reach the 2050 Vison will
require an unprecedented degree of collaboration and
whole-of-society engagement.” (Zero draft, page 3, 6(f))

IPS: In this important “super year” for nature, with
major milestones expected on both climate change and biodiversity,
what plans are there to bring the science/expert communities from
both climate and biodiversity together to help best inform the
decisions and actions for the coming decade?

Dr Larigauderie: 2020 has real potential to be
a turning point for society, where we can begin to holistically
transform our relationship with nature. The ‘Super Year for
Nature’ is an opportunity for decision-makers at every level of
society to listen and act on the science on both biodiversity and
climate change. The stakes could not be higher.

Climate change and biodiversity loss are inseparable challenges
that must be addressed together, in the scientific community as
well as in policy and business.

From 12 –14 May this year, well before the two major UN
biodiversity and climate conferences in 2020, IPBES and the IPCC
will co-sponsor a workshop – the first of its kind – to bring
leading scientists together to focus on the opportunities to meet
both of these challenges and on the risks of addressing them
separately from one another.

The workshop report will be an important document informing the
CBD and UNFCCC Conferences of the Parties (COP15 and COP 26,
respectively) regarding implementation of the Paris Agreement, the
post-2020 biodiversity framework and the Sustainable Development

The IPBES Global Assessment found that nature-based solutions
can provide more than one-third of climate mitigation needed to
keep warming below 2°C.

Enquiries: Rob Spaull, IPBES Head of

The writer can be contacted at

The post
As Planet Burns, One Million Species in World’s Eco-System in
Danger of Extinction
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
As Planet Burns, One Million Species in World’s Eco-System in Danger of Extinction