Background Biodiversity – the bedrock of sustainable development
Throughout its history – sometimes after natural disasters – the Earth has experienced times when species have been wiped out in large numbers. But since the 17th century the decline in biological diversity has been mainly attributable to human activity. Key drivers are the overuse of natural resources, environmental pollution, the expansion of agricultural areas and the industrialisation of farming, the displacement of native plant and animal species by invasive non-native ones, and climate change.
The loss of species and habitats has accelerated dramatically in recent decades. According to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (External link) (IPBES), about one million species of plants and animals are at risk of extinction. The human footprint is already discernible on 75 per cent of the global terrestrial area and 66 per cent of the ocean area.
Conserving biological diversity is an essential aspect of sustainable development. It is crucial to the achievement of around 80 per cent of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including reducing poverty, securing food sources, protecting water sources and soils, improving human health, and mitigating climate change and its impacts.
Developing countries, emerging economies and developed countries alike all bear a shared responsibility for the conservation of biodiversity. Policymakers, private-sector players, civil society and the scientific community must all work together on a long-term footing to ensure that the very foundation of our existence is not destroyed.
New biodiversity targets for 2030
The 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (External link) (CBD) was held in the Japanese city of Nagoya in 2010. The Parties formulated a strategic plan (External link) containing 20 specific biodiversity conservation targets that were to be achieved by 2020. However, the results have been sobering: not one of the 20 targets has been fully achieved at global level, and only six have been partially achieved.
A new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) for the period to 2030 is due to be adopted at the 15th Conference of the Parties. The conference was originally to be held in China in 2020, but it was postponed to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The intention is that it should herald a breakthrough in worldwide biodiversity conservation on a par with the achievements of the Paris Climate Conference of 2015. A first draft (External link) sets out four long-term goals for 2050 and 20 action-oriented targets for 2030. The draft also addresses the necessary enabling conditions, the issue of financial resources, and appropriate measures for monitoring and reporting on the measures taken by individual countries.