Summary of a collective report released today from scientists around the world warns “human well-being at risk” due to an increasing decline in biodiversity across the planet as result of human activity and climate change.
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has released summaries of four “extensively peer-reviewed” reports written by over 550 scientists from around the world, detailing trends in biodiversity across the Americas, Africa, Europe and Central America, along with Asia and the Pacific.
Biodiversity refers to the variety of life found in nature. As nature’s biodiversity suffers, so will the world’s food supply, economy, and its people.
This collective report is supported by the 129 state members behind IPBES, and comes as a result of a three-year study and roughly $5 million USD in funding. According to the report, biodiversity is declining in all four regions around the world.
If trends continue, the Americas will face a significant biodiversity problem by 2050. Average populations of species in a given area are already 31% lower than they were during the European Settlement, and as a result of climate change, this number is expected to climb to 40% over the next 30 years.
In Africa, it is predicted that by the year 2100, over half of the continent’s birds and mammal species could be wiped out as a result of climate change.
Over the Asia-Pacific, rising sea levels, continued pollution, overfishing and destructive agricultural practices pose “unprecedented threats” to biodiversity, especially where marine life is concerned. By 2050, 90% of coral reefs will be severely degraded.
In Europe and Central Asia, biodiversity decline is attributed to increasingly unsustainable practices in agriculture and forestry, with more natural resources being consumed than produced. 27% of species found in EU member states have an “unfavourable conservation status.” This isn’t the first time Europe’s biodiversity problem made the news this week – The Guardian reported on Wednesday that the bird population is collapsing in France as a result of farming and pesticides.
All of these facts and figures come from assessments conducted under IPBES and summarized in today’s publication. For all four regions of the world included in the study, it was highlighted how biodiversity decline threatens the economic wellbeing and quality of life of the human population. From the Americas to the Asia-Pacific, the emerging theme of the report was that “nature’s contribution to people” will continue to decline with biodiversity.
However, the purpose of the report is not just to warn of impending disaster in the world, but to recommend policy options to prevent it. Authors of the collective study cite evidence that the world’s governments have been taking action in an attempt to protect biodiversity. In Asia and the Pacific, efforts to restore forests have resulted in some success. In Africa, a select few species under threat have shown some recovery. In American and across Europe and Central Asia, policy decisions have been made with protecting biodiversity in mind.
However, authors of the report stress that current efforts are likely not enough to protect against the general decline in biodiversity around the world. The report offers several approaches in the way of policy decisions, private sector partnerships, conservation efforts, and improvements in the application of science and technology, as some of many options that governments the world over have in the fight to restore the planet’s biodiversity and protect human well-being.
Sir Robert Watson, Chair of IPBES, said in a statement published today that “we must act to halt and reverse the unsustainable use of nature – or risk not only the future we want, but even the lives we currently lead.”
Today’s publication from IPBES was a Summary for Policy Makers. The full reports summarized today are expected to be released later in the year.