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October 2014

Science Article Shows More Investment Needed to Reach 2020 Biodiversity Targets

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Ronna Kelly
Communications Director
Global Footprint Network
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(OAKLAND, CA, USA) — OCTOBER 2, 2014 —A new study published in Science today and co-authored by Global Footprint Network’s researchers reveals that, despite some progress, more needs to be done to reach an internationally agreed set of biodiversity targets by 2020.

Ecosystems and the biodiversity that underpin them are vital for sustaining human life. Recognizing this, in 2010, 193 nations agreed on a set of 20 biodiversity-related goals, known as Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

At this mid-way point to the 2020 deadline, a team of 51 experts from over 30 institutions 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 our current trajectory.

To assess progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, experts used 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 projected 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, Lead Author and Senior Marine Biodiversity Scientist at United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre 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.”

Global Footprint Network’s Ecological Footprint is one of the pressure indicators included in the analysis. “Over the past five decades, the biosphere’s ecosystems have been put under increasing pressure due to humanity’s growing demand for resources and ecological services,” says Alessandro Galli, a Global Footprint Network senior scientist and director of the organization’s Mediterranean-MENA Program.

“Although evidence exists that actions taken to protect biodiversity might have slowed the decline in biodiversity, the growing societal responses have not contributed to major reductions in human-induced pressures,” Galli adds. “Among various factors, this might be due to the fact that most of these responses have focused on addressing the state of biodiversity rather than the pressures upon it.”

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 current rates, Aichi Biodiversity Targets to halve the rate of natural habitat loss and sustainably harvest all fish stocks will not be achieved – but there remains 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.”

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 led to better managed fisheries stocks 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 this study feed into a global assessment of the status and trends of biodiversity – the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-4) – which is being released on 6 October during the upcoming meeting to the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea. During this meeting the necessary actions and novel solutions required to meet the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and preserve biodiversity will be discussed.

Editors Notes

“A mid-term analysis of progress towards international biodiversity targets,” by D.P. Tittensor et al. will be published online by the journal Science, at the Science Express website, on Thursday 2 October. See http://www.sciencemag.org/content/346/6206/241. More information can be found online at the Science press package at http://www.eurekalert.org/jrnls/sci. You will need your user ID and password to access this information.

About Global Footprint Network
Global Footprint Network promotes the science of sustainability by advancing the Ecological Footprint, a resource accounting tool that makes sustainability measurable. Together with its partners, the Network works to further improve and implement this science by coordinating research, developing methodological standards, and providing decision-makers with robust resource accounts to help the human economy operate within the Earth’s ecological limits. www.footprintnetwork.org

About the Aichi Biodiversity Targets
The Aichi Biodiversity Targets for 2011-2020 were adopted at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties in October 2010 in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. They formed part of the revised and updated Strategic Plan for Biodiversity which provides an overarching framework on biodiversity for biodiversity-related conventions, the United Nations system, and all partners engaged in biodiversity management and policy development.

The mission of the plan is to “take effective and urgent action to halt the loss of biodiversity in order to ensure that by 2020 ecosystems are resilient and continue to provide essential services, thereby securing the planet’s variety of life, and contributing to human well-being, and poverty eradication. To ensure this, pressures on biodiversity are reduced, ecosystems are restored, biological resources are sustainably used and benefits arising out of utilization of genetic resources are shared in a fair and equitable manner; adequate financial resources are provided, capacities are enhanced, biodiversity issues and values mainstreamed, appropriate policies are effectively implemented, and decision-making is based on sound science and the precautionary approach.”

About UNEP-WCMC
The United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) is the specialist biodiversity assessment centre of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the world’s foremost intergovernmental environmental organisation. The Centre has been in operation for over 30 years, combining scientific research with practical policy advice. www.unep-wcmc.org

About the Convention on Biological Diversity
Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 194 Parties up to now, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes for implementation, the transfer of technologies, sharing information on good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is a supplementary agreement to the Convention. It seeks to ensure the safe use of LMOs obtained through modern biotechnology and to protect biological diversity from their potential adverse effects. To date, 167 countries plus the European Union are Parties to the Cartagena Protocol. The Secretariat of the Convention and its Cartagena Protocol is located in Montreal, Canada. For more information visit: www.cbd.int.