The group of 50, who are part of bioDISCOVERY, which is a global research network of Future Earth, and the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON), published their recommendations in the June 2022 edition of One Earth journal.
Human impacts on the Earth’s biosphere are driving the global biodiversity crisis, write the authors. Three-quarters of terrestrial ecosystems have been significantly altered, a quarter of assessed plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, and genetic diversity is declining in wild and domesticated species.
This is a crisis of biodiversity that is driving huge declines in Nature’s contributions to people.
Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity are in negotiation about a set of actions intended to halt the loss of biodiversity and put the planet on a path to recovery by 2050. This ambition has become known as ‘bending the curve’.
The group of scientists, including CIFOR-ICRAF scientists Manuel Guariguata and Jianchu Xu, provided evidence to the Framework that the proposed actions can, indeed, bend the curve for biodiversity but only if these actions are implemented urgently and in an integrated manner.
“It is essential to treat the targets, milestones and goals of the Framework as an indivisible whole, rather than focus on its individual elements,” said Guariguata.
The proposed actions are set out in the first draft of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. The final version is planned to be adopted at the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, China and Montreal, Canada, in two phases. The draft Framework contains 21 Action Targets 2030 in three groups: 1) reducing threats by acting on direct drivers of biodiversity loss; 2) sustainable use and benefit-sharing to meet people’s needs; and 3) tools and means of implementation, which mostly act on indirect drivers of loss.
Systemic approach essential
A systemic approach across all targets is essential, write the group. Their research synthesis examined targets 1–10, which act on direct drivers of biodiversity loss. Their analysis found that no single target acting on direct drivers makes more than a 10–15% contribution. There is no one-to-one link from any action target to a given milestone or goal.
In other words, to be effective, the Framework must be implemented in an integrated way and the targets, milestones and goals must be seen to be all involved as an indivisible whole.
Transformative change to bend the curve
The group looked at three scenarios for 2030 and 2050 that are directly related to the Framework. To achieve the proposed, ambitious targets of expanding protected areas, creating species’ management plans, and restoring ecosystems while stopping conversion of natural ecosystems is projected to slow but not stop future biodiversity loss.
Reducing the loss even further is hampered in part by insufficient progress on restoring biodiversity, ecosystem functions and connectivity across agricultural lands, which occupy approximately 40% of the planet’s land area.
The scientists and their colleagues point out that the targets may still only be partially achieved because current trends are that protected areas are under-resourced, establishment of ecologically important protected areas is slow, and restoration using best ecological practices are not occurring as fast and as widely as needed.
Act now and sustain actions
There are significant time lags between the impacts of drivers and the magnitude of biodiversity change. Lags frequently occur over decades, so the sooner mitigation of drivers occurs, the shorter the lag.
International collaboration and multi-scale approach
An enhanced dialogue between national agendas and global priorities is necessary, supported by responsibility and transparency mechanisms, including more regular review of, and enhanced collaboration in, implementation.
A monitoring framework and review mechanisms to achieve outcomes
Indicators to assess trends in drivers of biodiversity loss are not currently included in the Framework but are essential to demonstrate that actions result in recovery.
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