May 10, 2010
United Nations Environment Programme
Nairobi - Natural systems that support economies, lives and livelihoods across the planet are at risk of rapid degradation and collapse unless there is swift, radical and creative action to conserve and sustainably use the variety of life on Earth.
This is one principal conclusion of a major new assessment of the current state of biodiversity and the implications of its continued loss for human well-being.
The third edition of Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3), produced by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), confirms that the world has failed to meet its target to achieve a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.
The report is based on scientific assessments, national reports submitted by governments and a study on future scenarios for biodiversity. Subject to an extensive independent scientific review process, the publication of GBO-3 is one of the principal milestones of the UN's International Year of Biodiversity.
The Outlook will be a key input into discussions by world leaders and Heads of State at a special high level segment of the United Nations General Assembly on 22 September. Its conclusions will also be central to the negotiations by world governments at the Nagoya Biodiversity Summit in October.
The Outlook warns that massive further loss of biodiversity is becoming increasingly likely, and with it, a severe reduction of many essential services to human societies as several "tipping points" are approached, in which ecosystems shift to alternative, less productive states from which it may be difficult or impossible to recover.
Potential tipping points analyzed for GBO-3 include:
The Outlook argues, however, that such outcomes are avoidable if effective and coordinated action is taken to reduce the multiple pressures being imposed on biodiversity. For example, urgent action is needed to reduce land-based pollution and destructive fishing practices that weaken coral reefs, and make them more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.
The document notes that the linked challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change must be addressed by policymakers with equal priority and in close co-ordination, if the most severe impacts of each are to be avoided. Conserving biodiversity and the ecosystems it underpins can help to store more carbon, reducing further build-up of greenhouse gases; and people will be better able to adapt to unavoidable climate change if ecosystems are made more resilient with the easing of other pressures.
The Outlook outlines a possible new strategy for reducing biodiversity loss, learning the lessons from the failure to meet the 2010 target. It includes addressing the underlying causes or indirect drivers of biodiversity loss, such as patterns of consumption, the impacts of increased trade and demographic change. Ending harmful subsidies would also be an important step.
GBO-3 concludes that we can no longer see the continued loss of biodiversity as an issue separate from the core concerns of society. Realizing objectives such as tackling poverty and improving the health, wealth and security of present and future generations will be greatly strengthened if we finally give biodiversity the priority it deserves.
The Outlook points out that for a fraction of the money summoned up instantly by the world's governments in 2008-9 to avoid economic meltdown, we can avoid a much more serious and fundamental breakdown in the Earth's life support systems
In his foreword to GBO-3, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes: "To tackle the root causes of biodiversity loss, we must give it higher priority in all areas of decision-making and in all economic sectors."
"As this third Global Biodiversity Outlook makes clear, conserving biodiversity cannot be an afterthought once other objectives are addressed - it is the foundation on which many of these objectives are built."
"We need a new vision for biological diversity for a healthy planet and a sustainable future for humankind."
UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, adds that there have been key economic reasons why the 2010 biodiversity targets were not met.
"Many economies remain blind to the huge value of the diversity of animals, plants and other life-forms and their role in healthy and functioning ecosystems from forests and freshwaters to soils, oceans and even the atmosphere," observes Mr. Steiner.
"Many countries are beginning to factor natural capital into some areas of economic and social life with important returns, but this needs rapid and sustained scaling-up."
"Humanity has fabricated the illusion that somehow we can get by without biodiversity or that it is somehow peripheral to our contemporary world: the truth is we need it more than ever on a planet of six billion heading to over nine billion people by 2050."
The Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ahmed Djoghlaf, says: "The news is not good. We continue to lose biodiversity at a rate never before seen in history - extinction rates may be up to 1,000 times higher than the historical background rate."
"The assessment of the state of the world's biodiversity in 2010, as contained in GBO-3 based on the latest indicators, over 110 national reports submitted to the Convention Secretariat, and scenarios for the 21st Century should serve as a wake-up call for humanity. Business as usual is no longer an option if we are to avoid irreversible damage to the life-support systems of our planet."
"The Convention's new Strategic Plan, to be adopted at the 2010 Nagoya Biodiversity Summit must tackle the underlying causes of biodiversity loss. The linked challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change must be addressed with equal priority and close cooperation. Joint action is needed to implement the Conventions on Biodiversity, Climate Change and to Combat Desertification - the three conventions born of the 1992 Rio Conference. The Rio+20 Summit offers an opportunity to adopt a workplan to achieve this."
Biodiversity in 2010
GBO-3 uses multiple lines of evidence to demonstrate that the target set by world governments in 2002, "to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level" , has not been met. Based on a special analysis of biodiversity indicators carried out by a panel of scientists, as well as peer-reviewed scientific literature and reports from national governments to the CBD, key findings include:
Biodiversity Futures for the 21st Century
Scientists from a wide range of disciplines came together as part of the preparation of GBO-3 to identify possible future outcomes for biodiversity during the current century, based on observed trends, models and experiments. Their principal conclusions include:
Towards a strategy for reducing biodiversity loss
GBO-3 sets out a number of elements that could be considered in a future strategy to reduce biodiversity loss, and avoid the worst impacts of the scenarios analyzed in the Outlook. It is likely to form the basis of discussion of the strategic plan currently being considered for the next decade of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and due to be agreed at the 10th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the CBD in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010. The elements include:
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 (GBO-3) , like its two predecessors published in four-yearly intervals since 2002, results from a decision of the Conference of Parties to the CBD [see note 2 below]. It is the product of close collaboration between the Secretariat of the CBD and the United Nations Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC).
The Outlook has been produced according to a transparent, rigorous process of review. Two separate drafts were made available for review via the Internet during 2009, and comments from some 200 reviewers were considered. The whole production has been supervised by an Advisory Group, and the second draft was subjected to scientific review by a panel comprising leading scientists from governments, inter-governmental bodies and non-governmental organizations. The principal sources on which GBO-3 is based include:
110 national reports on biodiversity submitted by governments to the CBD.
The publication of GBO-3 was enabled by financial contributions from Canada, the European Union, Germany, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom, as well as UNEP.
2. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entered into force in December 1993. The CBD is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits from utilization of genetic resources. With 193 Parties, the Convention has near universal participation among countries committed to preserving life on Earth. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety a supplementary treaty to the Convention seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. To date, 157 countries and the European Community are party to the Protocol. The Secretariat of the Convention and its Cartagena Protocol is located in Montreal. http://www.cbd.int/
3. 2010 International Year of Biodiversity The United Nations declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) to raise awareness about the crucial importance of biodiversity, to communicate the human costs of biodiversity loss, and to engage people, particularly youth, throughout the world in the fight to protect all life on Earth. Initiatives will be organized throughout the year to disseminate information, promote the protection of biodiversity and encourage countries, organizations, and individuals to take direct action to reduce biodiversity loss. The focal point for the year is the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. http://www.cbd.int/2010/welcome/
For more information please contact:
LINKS TO ADDITIONAL MATERIALS:
Press release in other languages:
French version: http://www.unep.org/downloads/GBO/fr.doc
Russian version: http://www.unep.org/downloads/GBO/ru.doc
Chinese version: http://www.unep.org/downloads/GBO/ch.doc
Arabic version: http://www.unep.org/downloads/GBO/ar.doc
Spanish version: http://www.unep.org/downloads/GBO/sp.doc
Full report: Global Biodiversity Outlook-3 in six languages:
Executive Summary in English: http://www.cbd.int/gbo/gbo3/doc/GBO3-Summary-final-en.pdf
Global Biodiversity Outlook-3 Regional Factsheets:
Download the Video News Release (VNR) in broadcast standard or web standard: http://eurovision.net/worldlink/front/view/home.php
MP4 file of the VNR: http://idisk.mac.com/mabelle-Public/David/VNR GOV FINAL.mp4
Information and links regarding the VNRs and B-roll: http://web.me.com/dcurchod/dccdevbiodiv10/GLOBAL_BIODIVERSITY.html
GBO-3 graphics: http://www.cbd.int/gbo/gbo3/doc/GBO3-graphs.zip