What’s Going On Here?
A decade ago, United Nations members set 20 targets to curb the loss of biodiversity globally. The 2020 results are in and the world has failed miserably, with some saplings of success.
What Does This Mean?
The Global Biodiversity Outlook, published this week by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) found that natural habitats have continued to disappear and vast numbers of species remain threatened by extinction from human activities.
Globally, none of the 20 targets have been fully met, and only six are deemed to have been “partially achieved”. In the UK, an RSPB study reported that 17 targets have been missed, calling it a ‘lost decade for nature’.
Other devastating statistics from a host of recent studies add to the urgent need to redesign the way we produce, consume, and trade goods.
- Wildlife populations have fallen by more than two-thirds in less than 50 years – WWF
- 1 million of an estimated 8 million species are at risk of extinction – IPEBS
- Human impact can explain 96% of all mammal species extinctions of the last 100,000 years – University of Gothenburg
Why Should We Care?
Despite this failed decade, there is still hope. One study found that up to 48 species have been saved from extinction through conservation efforts. It’s a tiny proportion but it demonstrates how nature can bounce back with the right support.
Virtually all countries are now taking some steps to protect biodiversity, such as conservation and designating protected areas, without which the state of the world’s biodiversity would be considerably worse. Plus:
- Deforestation rates are falling (albeit still too high!)
- 44% of vital biodiverse areas are now under protection
- Invasive alien species, particularly mammals, have been eradicated from more islands
Awareness of the importance of biodiversity is increasing. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the relationship between people and nature, reminding us all of the profound consequences to our own well-being and survival that can result from continued biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystems.
The CBD are continuing work towards a major summit next year and the report authors provide hope in the form of these 8 major transitions to revive our natural world:
- Watch the BBC film Extinction: The Facts available now. Sir David Attenborough joins a team of scientists presenting a heartbreaking picture of the world today before concluding with a cause for hope: “if we make the right decisions at this critical moment, we can safeguard our planet’s ecosystems, its extraordinary biodiversity and all its inhabitants.“
- You can support the transition goals by reducing food waste and eating sustainably. Find out how at the Sustainable Food Trust.
- Join or donate to your local wildlife group e.g. RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, RSPCA