Changes in global biodiversity in a decade
The decade 2010-2020 was declared as UN’s Decade on Biodiversity. In 2010, 20 objectives related to biodiversity for the decade were set out. Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) has published the fifth edition of the UN’s Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-5) report on September 15, 2020. It said none of the targets have been fully met and only six have been deemed to have been partially achieved. GBO-5 will also have an important impact on CBD’s ongoing process to create a set of new global biodiversity targets for 2021-2030. That framework was to be considered at CBD’s 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP-15), at Kunming China, which has been postponed due to corona virus pandemic form October 2020 to May 2021.
Somewhat positive highlights include falling rate of deforestation (There was 33% reduction in global deforestation rates comparing the last five years with rates in decade to 2010), eradication of invasive alien species from more islands, and raised awareness of biodiversity and its importance. However, the overall situation is not good and is getting worse. For example, funding for actions linked to biodiversity is way below the hundreds of billions needed, though resources available for biodiversity through international flows and official development assistance roughly doubled. Moreover, the support for activities harmful to biodiversity continues. These include $ 500 billion in fossil fuel and other subsidies that potentially cause environmental harm.
Out of 20 targets, the six partially achieved targets are number 9, 11,16,17,19 and 20, as detailed below: Target 9 related to invasive species was partially achieved with medium confidence. This target stipulated that by 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated and measures are put in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment.
Target 11 related to Protected areas was partially achieved with high confidence. This target envisaged that by 2020, at least 17% of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10% of coastal and marine areas are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected system of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures. Though the target related to proportions of lands and seas protected was met, the elements related to the quality of protected areas were not met. Target 16 related to access and fairness and was partially achieved with high confidence .It stipulated that by 2015, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from their Utilization is in force and operational , consistent with national legislation.
Target 17 related to Strategies and was partially achieved with high confidence. It stated that by 2015, each Party has developed, adopted as a policy instrument, and has commenced implementing an effective and participatory national biodiversity strategy and action plan. Target 19 related to Science and Technology was partially achieved with medium confidence. It provided that by 2020, knowledge, the science base and technologies relating to biodiversity are improved, widely shared and transferred, and applied. After a decade, knowledge of biodiversity has improved but has not been widely shared or applied. Target 20 related to resources was partially achieved with high confidence. It stipulated that by 2020, the mobilization of financial resources for effectively implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 from all sources should increase substantially from the current levels. As already mentioned, official development assistance doubled but resources did not increase from all sources.
The 14 targets which were not achieved were :1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,10,12,13,14,15,18.
Target1 related to awareness was not achieved and with low confidence. It stipulated that by 2020, people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably. Target 2 related to integration was not achieved and with medium confidence. It stated that by 2020, biodiversity values have been integrated into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies and planning process and are being incorporated into national accounting, as appropriate, and reporting systems. Target 3 related to Subsidies was not achieved and with medium confidence. It stipulated that by 2020, incentives including subsidies, harmful to biodiversity are eliminated, phased out or reformed in order to minimize or avoid negative impacts, and positive incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity are developed and applied.
Target4 related to Sustainability was not achieved and with high confidence .It provided that by 2020, Governments , business and stakeholders at all levels have taken steps to achieve sustainable production and consumption and have kept the impacts of use of natural resources well within safe ecological limits. Target 5 related to Forests / habitats, was not achieved and with high confidence. It stated that by 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible, brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced. However, this loss and degradation of habitats remains worryingly high, including in primary forests and wetlands. Target 6 related to Fish/ Oceans was not achieved and with high confidence. It stipulated that by 2020, all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably and legally so that overfishing is avoided, recovery plans and measures are in place for all depleted species, fisheries have no significant adverse impacts on threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems. Target 7 related to Food was not achieved and with high confidence. It stated that by 2020, areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity. Target 8 related to Pollution was not achieved and with medium confidence. It stipulated that by 2020, pollution including from excess nutrients, has been brought to levels that are not detrimental to ecosystem function and biodiversity.
Target 10 related to Coral was not achieved and with high confidence. It provided that by 2015, the multiple anthropogenic pressures on coral reefs, and other ecosystems impacted by climate change or ocean acidification are minimised, so as to maintain their integrity and functioning. Target 12 related to Species was not achieved and with high confidence. It stipulated that by 2020, the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline has been improved and sustained. But, actually, species extinction has been accelerating at rates unprecedented in human history. Target 13 pertained to Genetic Material was not achieved and with medium confidence. It was stipulated that by 2020, the genetic diversity of cultivated plants and animals and of wild relatives , including other socio-economically as well as culturally valuable species , is maintained , and strategies have been developed and implemented for minimizing genetic erosion and safeguarding their genetic diversity.
Target 14 related to Ecosystems was not achieved and with medium confidence. It was stated that by 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services , including services related to water , and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being , are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women , indigenous and local communities , and the poor and vulnerable. Target 15 related to Restoration was not achieved and with medium confidence. It stipulated that by 2020, ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks has been enhanced, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15% degraded ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification. Target18 related to Traditional knowledge was not achieved and with low confidence. It provided that by 2020, the traditional knowledge, innovation and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and their customary use of biological resources , are respected and fully integrated and reflected in the implementation of the Convention with the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities, at all relevant levels.
It is clear that none of the 20 global biodiversity targets of the last decade have been met, though there has been some partial success in six targets. This trend of biodiversity loss will threaten food security, water supplies, and livelihoods on one hand and will result in worsening the impacts of global warming on the other hand. International community must tackle the twin global challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss in a coordinated manner.