The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has urged “transformative change” to tackle “unprecedented” rates of nature decline and species extinction, which are now likely to have grave impacts on people around the world.
A landmark report by IPBES, which examines the relationship between economic development pathways and their impacts on nature, finds that around one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.
“We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide,” IPBES Chair Sir Robert Watson said following the release of the report, compiled by 145 experts from 50 countries over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors.
“The report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” he said. Nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably through “transformative change” – a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values, he said.
Watson also warned that by its very nature, transformative change can expect opposition from those with interests vested in the status quo. However, such opposition can be overcome for the broader public good, according to him.
Loss of biodiversity is direct result of human activity
Ecosystems and species are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing as a direct result of human activity, posing a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world, authors of the report warned. The main culprits, according to the report, include changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation of organisms (including hunting, fishing and logging), climate change, and pollution.
Since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions have doubled, raising average global temperatures by at least 0.7°C, with climate change impacts expected to increase over the coming decades, the report warns.
Negative trends will continue to 2050 and beyond in all of the policy scenarios explored in the report, except those that include transformative change, due to the projected impacts of increasing land-use change, exploitation of organisms, and climate change.