Biodiversity targets by 2020 need more work

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World leaders are now giving importance to the preservation and sustainability of natural resources

World leaders are now giving importance to the preservation and sustainability of natural resources

Ecosystems and biodiversity are vital for sustaining human life.

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In 2010, there were 193 nations who recognized this and had pledged to act on a set of 20 biodiversity-related goals known as the “Aichi Biodiversity Targets.”

However, a new study published in the Science journal reveals that despite some progress, there are more actions that need to be done to reach an internationally agreed set of biodiversity targets by 2020.

With six more years before the deadline, a team of 51 experts from over 30 institutions, which also includes BirdLife International, have assessed progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and projected whether or not they will be met.

They reveal that despite increasing management efforts and financial investment in protecting biodiversity, and a remarkable expansion in protected areas on land and at sea, accumulated and increasing pressures on the natural world mean it is unlikely that most of the targets will be met by 2020 if we remain on the current trajectory.

The experts have discovered this by using a broad range of data on biodiversity and human indicators such as global bottom-trawl fishing pressure, efforts to manage invasive species, financial investment, and public understanding of biodiversity. They then project these trends to assess the state of biodiversity in 2020.

“The Aichi Biodiversity Targets represent the most important international commitment towards preserving biodiversity,” says Derek Tittensor, the lead author and senior marine biodiversity scientist at United Nations Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Center and Adjunct professor at Dalhousie University. “However, our projections show that the impact of current management and policy efforts is not enough to halt biodiversity declines and meet most of the targets by 2020.”

“The BirdLife Partnership’s data from birds underpin one-fifth of the indicators used to judge progress against the 20 Aichi targets,” says Dr. Stuart Butchart, BirdLife International’s head of Science and a co-author of the paper.

“These show that we are not on course to meet the Targets. Governments need to do more to honour their commitments by turning their words into action and scaling up their investment in nature conservation,” he adds.

As shown in the Science paper, increased pressures on biodiversity suggest that the situation is worsening. The consumption of natural resources is increasing. Decreasing wetland extent and declining coral cover reflect large-scale habitat loss. At its current rate, the aim of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets to decrease natural habitat loss by 50 percent and for sustainable harvest of all fish stocks will not be achieved—although the experts believe there is sufficient time to change this outcome.

“The Aichi Biodiversity Targets are still within reach,” says Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, executive secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

“We have numerous examples of successful policy efforts to halt or slow biodiversity loss. This study acts as a wake-up call that these efforts should become more widespread,” the doctor adds.

Substantial progress is being made on individual targets. Certification schemes for forests and fisheries are becoming more widespread. Policy interventions have resulted in reduced deforestation and have led to fisheries stocks that are better managed in some regions. There is also growing public awareness of biodiversity. Financial resources are being made available to address the biodiversity crisis, but more investment is needed to fulfill all targets.

The results of the study feeds into a global assessment of the status and trends of biodiversity—the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, which was released on October 6 during the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Pyeongchang, Korea. During this meeting the necessary actions and novel solutions required to meet the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and preserve biodiversity will be discussed.

Haribon Foundation is the BirdLife partner in the Philippines.

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