Failure For Biodiversity Convention As The World Flunks On All 2020 Targets

Katie Ramirez
September 19, 2020

On the progress of the 20 global biodiversity targets - known as Aichi Biodiversity targets - agreed in 2010 with a 2020 deadline, the report concludes that the world has "not achieved" 14 targets (relating to sustainable agriculture, reducing pollution and subsidies harmful to biodiversity, and conservation of species, corals, fish/oceans, forests/habitats, genetic materials and ecosystems among others) while only "partially achieved" six of the targets within the deadline.

The targets were ambitious, but crucial.

The latest Global Biodiversity Outlook report (GBO-5), which offers an authoritative overview of the state of nature, has been published by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

"This flagship report underlines that humanity stands at a crossroads with regard to the legacy we wish to leave to future generations", said CBD, Executive Secretary, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema. While global deforestation rates have decreased by about a third through past five years compared to pre-2010 levels, fragmentation and degradation of biodiversity-rich ecosystems in the tropics remains high, and wilderness areas and wetlands have continued to disappear and freshwater ecosystems remain critically threatened, it finds. "And the more humanity exploits nature in unsustainable ways and undermines its contributions to people, the more we undermine our own wellbeing, security and prosperity".

Countries are now in the process of negotiating new targets, The Guardian reported. We have entered into the sixth mass extinction, with wildlife populations dropping more than two thirds since 1970 and continuing to decline in the past decade, according to the report. The UN is pushing to protect 30 percent of global land and sea areas by 2030 to protect nature.

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The sustainable freshwater transition: an integrated approach guaranteeing the water flows required by nature and people, improving water quality, protecting critical habitats, controlling invasive species and safeguarding connectivity to allow the recovery of freshwater systems from mountains to coasts.

The 20 targets are further divided into 60 elements, of which 13 had no progress or moved in the opposite direction. They are the equivalent to the Paris Agreement on climate change but on biodiversity.

The list of achievements is encouraging, and show that it's possible for governments to take unified action with concrete results, but, the report warns, it's nowhere near enough. Instead, the work of conservation scientists and volunteers in the past decade has spared around seven mammalian species and 18 bird species from extinction, including the black-footed ferret photographed above. Pollution is still extensive, with plastic all over the oceans. It goes on to explain there are options available to "reverse biodiversity loss, limit climate change and improve the capacity to adapt to it and meet other goals such as improved food security." . Financing is a case in point - funding for actions linked to biodiversity has been estimated at between $78-$91 billion per year, way below the hundreds of billions needed.

There are more specific steps laid out within each area - for instance, cities need to create more green spaces, consider the impact on biodiversity when building new roads or infrastructure, and promote local food production.
"Despite some progress, the loss of nature continues unabated, highlighting not only a failure of our moral duty to preserve Earth's diversity of life, but also the undermining of the very natural systems that support human health and the global economy". The Covid-19 pandemic, for example, has illustrated "the link between our treatment of the living world and the emergence of human diseases", said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in the report.

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