“This flagship report underlines that humanity stands at a crossroads with regard to the legacy we wish to leave to future generations.”
NEW DELHI — Despite encouraging progress in several areas, the natural world is suffering badly and getting worse. Eight transformative changes are, therefore, urgently needed to ensure human wellbeing and save the planet, the UN warns in a major report.
The report comes as the Covid-19 pandemic challenges people to rethink their relationship with nature, and to consider the profound consequences to their own wellbeing and survival that can result from continued biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystems.
The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 (GBO-5), published by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on Tuesday, offers an authoritative overview of the state of nature.
It is a final report card on progress against the 20 global biodiversity targets agreed in 2010 with a 2020 deadline, and offers lessons learned and best practices for getting on track.
“This flagship report underlines that humanity stands at a crossroads with regard to the legacy we wish to leave to future generations,” CBD Executive Secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema said.
“Many good things are happening around the world and these should be celebrated and encouraged. Nevertheless, the rate of biodiversity loss is unprecedented in human history and pressures are intensifying. Earth’s living systems as a whole are being compromised.
“And the more humanity exploits nature in unsustainable ways and undermines its contributions to people, the more we undermine our own well-being, security and prosperity.
“As nature degrades,” Mrema continued, “new opportunities emerge for the spread to humans and animals of devastating diseases like this year’s coronavirus. The window of time available is short, but the pandemic has also demonstrated that transformative changes are possible when they must be made.”
The report calls for a shift away from “business as usual” across a range of human activities.
It outlines eight transitions that recognise the value of biodiversity, the need to restore the ecosystems on which all human activity depends, and the urgency of reducing the negative impacts of such activity.
Inger Andersen, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director with the UN Environment Programme, said protecting nature is entirely within humanity’s reach.
“The work must start now,” she said.
“Governments and the wider society have acted to address the biodiversity crisis. Some nations have made some progress. However, as this Report Card on global progress demonstrates, we have not met the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. And we are not on track for the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity,” Andersen added.
The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 underlines the urgent need to act to slow and end further loss, and highlights examples of proven measures available to help achieve the world’s agreed vision: “Living in harmony with nature” by 2050.
WWF’s Living Planet Report, released on September 10, documenting the precipitous fall in monitored populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish between 1970 and 2016, further underlines the urgency to act.