World governments fail to deliver on 2010 biodiversity target
Tuesday 4 May 2010
World leaders have failed to deliver commitments made in 2002 to reduce the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, and have instead overseen alarming biodiversity declines.
These findings are the result of a new paper published in the leading journal Science and represent the first assessment of how the targets made through the 2002 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have not been met.
Compiling over 30 indicators – measures of different aspects of biodiversity, including changes in species’ populations and risk of extinction, habitat extent and community composition – the study found no evidence for a significant reduction in the rate of decline of biodiversity, and that the pressures facing biodiversity continue to increase. The synthesis provides overwhelming evidence that the 2010 target has not been achieved.
“This study highlights how the pressures on biodiversity are continuing to build, resulting in rapid and widespread loss of wildlife at every level.
"Governments signed up to environmental targets such as the Convention on Biological Diversity need no more stark a warning that urgent action is required, if our legacy is to be anything other than to have degraded and destroyed the ecosystems on which we rely so heavily”, said Dr Ben Collen, Head of ZSL’s Indicator and Assessment Unit
“Our data show that 2010 will not be the year that biodiversity loss was halted, but it needs to be the year in which we start taking the issue seriously and substantially increase our efforts to take care of what is left of our planet”, said Dr Stuart Butchart, of the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre and BirdLife International, and the paper’s lead author.
“Since 1970, we have reduced animal populations by 30%, the area of mangroves and sea grasses by 20% and the coverage of living corals by 40%”, said the United Nations Environment Programme’s Chief Scientist Prof Joseph Alcamo. “These losses are clearly unsustainable, since biodiversity makes a key contribution to human well-being and sustainable development, as recognised by the UN Millennium Development Goals."
The results from this study feed into Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, the flagship publication of the CBD, to be released in Nairobi on May 10th, when government representatives from around the world will meet to discuss the 2010 target and how to address the biodiversity crisis.
The study recognised that there have been some important local or national successes in tackling biodiversity loss, including the designation of many protected areas (e.g. the 20,000 km2 Juruena National Park in Brazil), the recovery of particular species (e.g. European Bison) and the prevention of some extinctions (e.g. Black Stilt of New Zealand).
But despite these encouraging achievements, efforts to address the loss of biodiversity need to be substantially strengthened, and sustained investment in coherent global biodiversity monitoring and indicators is essential to track and improve the effectiveness of these responses.
Indicators and Assessments Unit
Through the Indicators and Assessments Unit, ZSL tracks the fate of species and populations in order to better understand this impact.