|Earth’s biodiversity ‘stands at a crossroads’|
|The world faces a catastrophic biodiversity collapse that threatens to wipe out beloved species and invaluable genetic diversity and endangers humanity’s food supply, health and security, according to a United Nations report issued on 15th September.|
|When governments act to protect and restore nature, the authors found, it works. But despite commitments made 10 years ago, nations have not come close to meeting the scale of the crisis, which continues to worsen because of unsustainable farming, overfishing, burning of fossil fuels and other activities. “Humanity stands at a crossroads,” the report said.|
|As with climate change, scientific alarms on biodiversity loss have gone largely unheeded as the problem intensifies. The report estimates that governments around the world spend $500 billion per year on environmentally harmful initiatives, while public and private financing for biodiversity totals £62 billion to 69.7 billion.|
|Warning signs: A global pandemic and devastating wildfires, worsened by climate change and land management policies, are just some of the potential consequences of an unhealthy relationship with nature. “These things are a sign of what is to come,” said one author. “These things will only get worse if we don’t change course.”|
Humanity stands at a crossroads with regard to the legacy it leaves to future generations. Biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate, and the pressures driving this decline are intensifying. None of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets will be fully met, in turn threatening the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and undermining efforts to address climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of the relationship between people and nature, and it reminds us all of the profound consequences to our own well-being and survival that can result from continued biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystems.
Nevertheless, reports provided by the world’s governments, as well as other sources of evidence, reveal examples of progress which, if scaled up, could support the transformative changes necessary to achieve the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature. A number of transitions pointing the way to the type of changes required are already in evidence, albeit in limited areas of activity. Examining how such incipient transitions can be replicated and built on, will be critical to using the short window available to make the collective vision of living in harmony with nature a reality.
Options are available to the global community that could simultaneously halt and ultimately reverse biodiversity loss, limit climate change and improve the capacity to adapt to it and meet other goals such as improved food security.
These pathways to a sustainable future rely on recognizing that bold, interdependent actions are needed across a number of fronts, each of which is necessary and none of which is sufficient on its own. This mix of actions includes greatly stepping up efforts to conserve and restore biodiversity, addressing climate change in ways that limit global temperature rise without imposing unintended additional pressures on biodiversity, and trans-forming the way in which we produce, consume and trade goods and services, most particularly food, that rely on and have an impact on biodiversity.
Navigating the available pathways to the 2050 vision involves consideration of all the multiple aspects of our relationship with nature and the importance we attach to it. Solutions need to seek an integrated approach that simultaneously address the conservation of the planet’s genetic diversity, species and ecosystems, the capacity of nature to deliver material benefits to human societies, and the less tangible but highly-valued connections with nature that help to define our identities, cultures and beliefs.
Here is the full United Nations Report
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