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Biodiversity & Human Well-being

7. Can the 2010 biodiversity targets be met?

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    In 2002, the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Biodiversity adopted the target to achieve a "significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional, and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on earth" by 2010. It also established eleven more specific goals and a series of sub-targets focusing on certain aspects of biodiversity.

    Meeting the targets would require unprecedented efforts. Given appropriate actions at global, regional, and especially national level, it is possible to achieve, by 2010, a reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss for certain aspects of biodiversity and in certain regions. Several sub-targets set under the Convention on Biological Biodiversity could thus be met.

    Table: Prospects for Attaining the 2010 Sub-targets Agreed to under the Convention on Biological Diversity

    However, at global level, it is unlikely that the target of slowing down biodiversity loss will be met by 2010, since:

    • current trends show few indications that the pace of biodiversity loss is slowing down;
    • most of the direct drivers of biodiversity loss, such as land use change, climate change, pollution, and invasive alien species, are expected to increase;
    • it can take years, decades, or even centuries for human institutions to take actions and for impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems to become apparent (time lags).

    Since changes take place over different time frames, longer-term goals and targets-say, for 2050-are needed in addition to short-term targets to guide policy and actions.

    There is substantial scope for greater protection of biodiversity through actions justified on their economic merits for material or other benefits to human well-being. However, the total amount of biodiversity that would be conserved based strictly on utilitarian considerations is likely to be less than the amount present today. For example, a forested watershed could provide clean water and timber whether it was covered by a diverse native forest or a single-species plantation, but a single-species plantation may not provide significant levels of many other services, such as pollination, food, and cultural services. Ultimately, the level of biodiversity that survives on Earth will be determined not just by considerations of usefulness but also by ethical concerns such as the intrinsic value of species.

    Biodiversity conservation policies will have to compete with other policies aiming to reduce poverty and hunger in the world. Indeed, efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) set for 2015 will affect biodiversity and actions taken to reach the 2010 targets for biodiversity conservation will have consequences for the well-being of the world's poor. Trade-offs are sometimes inevitable though synergies are also possible. Therefore, efforts for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity need to be integrated into countries' strategies for poverty reduction. More...

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