BirdLife’s pioneering approach adopted by Millennium Development Goals
For the first time, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have adopted measures tracking the state of biodiversity, including monitoring the extinction risk of species using the IUCN Red List. Previously, the seventh Millennium Development Goal ‘to ensure environmental sustainability’ did not include any mention of biodiversity or the need to save species as a critical contribution to human development and peoples livelihoods.
BirdLife has partnered with the World Conservation Union (IUCN), Conservation International, NatureServe and the Zoological Society of London to develop an indicator based on the IUCN Red List. “The IUCN Red List Index is a simple yet powerful approach that allows the assessment of trends in endangerment – the rate at which species are slipping towards extinction”, said Dr Stuart Butchart (BirdLife's Global Research and Indicators Coordinator) speaking at BirdLife´s World Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Birds have the longest history of comprehensive assessment for the IUCN Red List of any class of organism. As a result, BirdLife International developed the first IUCN Red List Index to track trends in the status of birds, for which there are now 20 years of trends. “It is excellent to see that BirdLife’s pioneering approach for measuring trends is being rolled out for other taxonomic groups, and has been adopted by the United Nations as an indicator against the Millennium Development Goals”, commented Dr Butchart.
“The year 2008 should mark a turning point in progress towards the Millennium Development Goals” —Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
The news comes at the launch of the latest Annual Report on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals at a special High-level Event on the MDGs today in New York. “The year 2008 should mark a turning point in progress towards the Millennium Development Goals”, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Within the report is included the aim to ‘significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010’ as one of its targets. “This new target puts the importance of species at the top of the world’s agenda,” says Holly Dublin, Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission. “The links between biodiversity and development are strong, which is why it’s important that the Millennium Development Goals prioritize the need to conserve species across the world. Species are harvested for food, medicines and fibres. They’re domesticated for agriculture and play an essential role in regulating local and global environments”.
“It is excellent to see that BirdLife’s pioneering approach for measuring trends is being rolled out for other taxonomic groups, and has been adopted by the United Nations as an indicator against the Millennium Development Goals” —Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife's Global Research and Indicators Coordinator
“The world is waking up to the fact that environmental destruction and species extinction does real damage to peoples’ lives and livelihoods”, said Dr Matt Walpole, UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre. “Pledging to reduce biodiversity loss as part of the Millennium Development Goals demonstrates clear recognition by the World’s governments that poverty reduction and sound environmental management go hand in hand.”
The eight Millennium Development Goals, agreed by the world's governments and development institutions, range from reducing extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS. They provide measurable targets that can be achieved by the year 2015.