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2 Oct 2014

More investment needed to reach international biodiversity targets by 2020

Targets to halt biodiversity loss can still be met, but governments need to do more to honour their commitments by turning their words into action and scaling up their investment in nature conservation.
By Adrian Long

A new study published in the journal Science 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. Recognising 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 including BirdLife International, 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.”  

“The BirdLife Partnership’s data from birds underpin one-fifth of the indicators used to judge progress against the 20 Aichi targets”,

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said Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife International’s Head of Science and a co-author of the paper.

“These show that we are not on course to meet the Targets. Governments need to do more to honour their commitments by turning their words into action and scaling up their investment in nature conservation.”

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 fulfil 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.

 

More information:

Find out how BirdLife uses birds as indicators to track progress towards the Aichi Targets.

This news can be overwhelming, however for birds we have many inspiring conservation success stories to discover.


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