Enough evidence to act for biodiversity!

20 Sep, 2019

Many reports in 2019 pushed for the urgent need for action against loss of biodiversity

2020 will be a critical year for biodiversity. The 15 Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Kunming China will decide the post 2020 Agenda for biodiversity. The new strategy for the next decade will have to come up with tangible, ambitious and convincing proposals to end biodiversity loss. This strategy must be based on a critical review of the CBD Global Strategy 2011-2020, in alignment with the other major multilateral environmental agreements (especially the Climate Convention), and the Agenda 2030 with the Sustainable Development Goals. Even non-environmental sectors are now conceding that degradation of nature is a threat to sustainable development at par with climate change, with a corresponding need for action.

Numerous reports in 2019 provided enough evidence to push for an urgent need to act against further loss of biodiversity. Some significant reports have been compiled below:

I. Global Resources Outlook 2019: Natural Resources for the Future We Want

GEO-6 provides an analysis of the state of the global environment, the corresponding policy responses of different levels and projections for the near future. However, unlike previous GEO reports it focuses on the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. GEO-6 convincingly demonstrates that a healthy environment is the best foundation for economic prosperity, human health and well‐being. But it is human behaviour that continues to have mainly negative impacts on biodiversity, atmosphere, oceans, water and land, which adversely affect human health. It must, therefore, be our objective to safeguard and regain the integrity of the ecosystem through sustainable development. GEO-6 concludes that “unsustainable human activities globally have degraded the Earth’s ecosystems, endangering the ecological foundations of society. Urgent action at an unprecedented scale is necessary to arrest and reverse this situation, thereby protecting human and environmental health and maintaining the current and future integrity of global ecosystems. Key actions include reducing land degradation, biodiversity loss, and air, land and water pollution; improving water management and resource management; climate change mitigation and adaptation; resource efficiency; addressing decarbonisation, decoupling and detoxification; and the prevention and management of risk and disasters. Those all require more ambitious and effective policies, including sustainable consumption and production, greater resource efficiency and improved resource management, integrated ecosystem management, and integrated waste management and prevention”.

Report: https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/global-environment-outlook-6

II. The Global Risks Report 2019 14th Edition

The Executive Summary states that environmental risks “continue to dominate the results of our annual Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS). This year, they accounted for three of the top five risks by likelihood and four by impact. Extreme weather was the risk of greatest concern, but our survey respondents are increasingly worried about environmental policy failure: having fallen in the rankings after Paris, “failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation” jumped back to number two in terms of impact this year. The results of climate inaction are becoming increasingly clear. The accelerating pace of biodiversity loss is a particular concern. Species abundance is down by 60% since 1970. In the human food chain, biodiversity loss is affecting health and socioeconomic development, with implications for well-being, productivity, and even regional security”.

Report: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Global_Risks_Report_2019.pdf

III. FAO (2019): The State of the World’s Biodiversity

This report presents the first global assessment of biodiversity for food and agriculture (BFA) meticulously elaborated over a span of 5 years. This is worth noting because agriculture itself has been identified as one of the main drivers for biodiversity loss and climate change. The report addresses the sustainable use, development and conservation of BFA worldwide. BFA includes the diversity of animals, plants and micro-organisms at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels that sustain structures, functions and processes in and around production systems and provide food and non-food agricultural products. Biodiversity for food and agriculture is indispensable to food security and sustainable development. The report is divided into five parts:

  • Overview of the context of the assessment and the contributions of BFA to human-wellbeing;
  • Discussion of the main drivers affecting BFA and analysis of status and trends of BFA;
  • Presentation of the state of use of BFA and different management approaches, the roles of micro-organisms, aspects of genetic improvement as well as conservation efforts for BFA;
  • Enabling frameworks regarding state of policies, institutions and capacities for supporting BFA; and finally 5) Needs and challenges in the management of BFA.

Report: http://www.fao.org/state-of-biodiversity-for-food-agriculture/en/

IV. Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

This report is a major output of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and a key input for the CBD Post-2020 Agenda. The summary for policy makers sets the key messages under four chapters:

  • Nature and its vital contributions to people, which together embody biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, is deteriorating worldwide;
  • Direct and indirect drivers of change have accelerated during the past 50 years;
  • Goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors;
  • Nature can be conserved, restored and used sustainably while other global societal goals are simultaneously met through urgent and concerted efforts fostering transformative change.

The IPBES global assessment has established the knowledge base regarding:

  • Trends, causes, consequences for humans of the loss of biodiversity
  • Options for action
  • Aichi Targets: only components of 4 out of 20 targets will be achieved.

The road to 2030 Future IPBES assessments will inform transformative change:

Understanding the underlying causes of biodiversity loss and determinants of transformative change, reaching simultaneously SDGs related to food, climate, health, water and biodiversity, and measuring business impact and dependence on biodiversity and on nature’s contributions to people.

Report: https://www.ipbes.net/global-assessment-report-biodiversity-ecosystem-services

V. IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C

The IPCC special report focuses on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. Chapter 3 on “Impacts of 1.5°C global warming on natural and human systems” informs what it would mean to keep global warming at 1.5°C. The key messages ofthe report are: climate change is already affecting people, ecosystems and livelihoods all around the world. Limiting warming to 1.5°C is not impossible but would require unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society. There are clear benefits to keeping warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C, or higher. Every bit of warming matters!

Examples for lower impacts in terrestrial ecosystems if temperature increase is kept at 1.5°C:

  • Range losses of 50% or more, projected in approximately 6% insects, 8% plants and 4% vertebrates at 1.5°C. At 2°C this rises to around 18% insects, 16% plants and 8% vertebrates.
  • About 6.5% terrestrial land area projected to change from one biome to another at 1.5°C. At 2°C this rises to 13%.
  • Above 1.5°C: expansion of desert in the Mediterranean biome causing changes unparalleled in the last 10,000 years.

Report: https://unfccc.int/topics/science/workstreams/cooperation-with-the-ipcc/ipcc-special-report-on-global-warming-of-15-degc

VI. The 9th Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity

The ninth Trondheim Conference brought together decision-makers and experts from around the world to learn about and discuss knowledge and know-how for the global post-2020 biodiversity framework. The Conference sought to support the process established by the Convention on Biological Diversity for preparing this framework, with opportunities for major players to discuss key issues informally outside of the negotiation process.

For moving away from business as usual the conference proposes: It becomes important to think about biodiversity as a solution, rather than to only focus on biodiversity loss. Sustainability rests on environmental, social and economic pillars, and is not simply an ecological issue. It is imperative to find the levers for change for taking positive and reducing negative action. Workable solutions are required that meet multiple aims, recognising and involving key players and building partnerships for addressing shared solutions.

To achieve the 2050 vision for biodiversity the conference distinguishes “Components” and “Pillars”:


  • Central component – 2050 Vision 2050 and 2030 Mission 2030 with global strategic/aspirational goals reflecting desired status of biodiversity clearly expressed, 2030 SMART goals;
  • Accountability framework (review, monitoring, reporting, assessment utilizing indicators);
  • Enabling conditions (resource mobilisation, capacity building, knowledge management, technology transfer, communication, legal instrument, etc.)


  • Mission, Vision, Targets;
  • implementation and drivers,
  • enabling tools/elements, and
  • Action Agenda, Non-state Actors, mainstreaming. Each pillar with targets which can be organised/prioritised based on country specific conditions. Subset of these targets will be selected for communication as prioritised by country.

Report: https://trondheimconference.org/conference-reports

There is mounting evidence of the significance of biodiversity for human well-being. Despite these facts, not enough is done to halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of nature. This combined with climate change will risk the health of our biosphere and our future. “Living in harmony with nature” must become the benchmark for all our actions.

Compiled by Konrad Uebelhoer




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