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UN Report Paris, 6 May 2019: State of Planet

UN Report Paris, 6 May 2019: State of Planet

It was pretty sobering to be told this week that 1 million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction. And one of them is us.

The report is the most comprehensive global report of all time and was released in Paris at the 7th IPBES Plenary. It documents the unprecedented decline in global biodiversity and it's alarming implications for human health, prosperity and long-term survival. The key messages from the extensive Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) are published with a full report coming later in the year. We have published the high level findings as written.

Nature and its vital contributions to people, which together embody biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, are deteriorating worldwide.

Nature embodies different concepts for different people, including biodiversity, ecosystems, Mother Earth, systems of life and other analogous concepts. Nature’s contributions to people embody different concepts such as ecosystem goods and services, and nature’s gifts. Both nature and nature’s contributions to people are vital for human existence and good quality of life (human well-being, living in harmony with nature, living well in balance and harmony with Mother Earth, and other analogous concepts).

While more food, energy and materials than ever before are now being supplied to people in most places, this is increasingly at the expense of nature’s ability to provide such contributions in the future and frequently undermines nature’s many other contributions, which range from water quality regulation to sense of place. The biosphere, upon which humanity as a whole depends, is being altered to an unparalleled degree across all spatial scales. Biodiversity – the diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems – is declining faster than at any time in human history.

Direct and indirect drivers of change have accelerated during the past 50 years 

The rate of global change in nature during the past 50 years is unprecedented in human history. The direct drivers of change in nature with the largest global impact have been (starting with those with most impact ): changes in land and sea use; direct exploitation of organisms; climate change; pollution; and invasion of alien species.

Those five direct drivers result from an array of underlying causes – the indirect drivers of change – which are in turn under pinned by societal values and behaviours that include production and consumption patterns, human population dynamics and trends, trade, technological innovations and local through global governance. The rate of change in the direct and indirect drivers differs among regions and countries. 

Goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors

Past and ongoing rapid declines in biodiversity, ecosystem functions and many of nature’s contributions to people mean that most international societal and environmental goals, such as those embodied in the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, will not be achieved based on current trajectories.

These declines will also undermine other goals, such as those specified in the Paris Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity. The negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystem functions are projected to continue or worsen in many future scenarios in response to indirect drivers such as rapid human population growth, unsustainable production and consumption and associated technological development.

In contrast, scenarios and pathways that explore the effects of a low - to - moderate population growth, and transformative changes in production and consumption of energy, food, feed, fibre and water, sustainable use, equitable sharing of the benefits arising from use and nature - friendly climate adaptation and mitigation, will better support the achievement of future societal and environmental objectives.

Nature can be conserved, restored and used sustainably while simultaneously meeting other global societal goals through urgent and concerted efforts fostering transformative change

Societal goals – including those for food , water, energy, health and the achievement of human well - being for all, mitigating and adapting to climate change and conserving and sustainably using nature – can be achieved in sustainable pathways through the rapid and improved deployment of existing policy instruments and new initiatives that more effectively enlist individual and collective action for transformative change.

Since current structures often inhibit sustainable development and actually represent the indirect drivers of biodiversity loss, such fundamental, structural change is called for.

By its very nature, transformative change can expect opposition from those with interests vested in the status quo, but such opposition can be overcome for the broader public good.

If obstacles are overcome, commitment to mutually supportive international goals and targets, supporting actions by indigenous peoples and local communities at the local level, new frameworks for private sector investment and innovation, inclusive and adaptive governance approach es and arrangements, multi - sectoral planning and strategic policy mixes can help to transform the public and private sectors to achieve sustainability at the local, national and global levels. 

​Images: Main Image - IISD, Diego Noguera / Charts all from IPBES Report / Birds: Unpslash | Josh Hammond / Flood: Unsplash | Desmond Simon / Tortoise: Unsplash Ray Hennessy
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Simone N

So the policies of the two major parties in Australia are grossly inadequate is what you’re saying? Excellent synopsis of the situation and what needs to happen. How have we been so neglectful for so long?! Monday, 13 May 2019