Perspectives mondiales de la diversité biologique - édition 4. Secrétariat de la Convention sur la diversité biologique

Introduction: what is biodiversity and why is it so important?

    Biodiversity is the variability among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes they are part of. This includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems.

    Biodiversity forms the foundation of the resilience of ecosystems and thus of the vast array of ecosystem services that critically contribute to human well-being. Biodiversity is thus critical in natural ecosystems as well as in human-managed societies and systems. Decisions humans make that influence biodiversity affect the well-being of themselves and others .

    In this context, poor and vulnerable people generally rely more directly on biodiversity than others because of their limited ability to purchase alternatives. Various economic sectors such as fisheries, agriculture and tourism also rely on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Consequently, both poverty and economic development can negatively affect global biodiversity and the provision of important ecosystem goods and services. However, there are alternative development pathways that focus more on sustainability, including its biodiversity dimension.

    What is the Global Biodiversity Outlook?

      The Gobal Biodiversity Outlook comprises a series of global assessments of the state of biodiversity that are produced by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)2. This Outlook – GB04- is the fourth in the series. The previous one, GBO-3 found that all major pressures on biodiversity were increasing, and that some ecosystems were being pushed towards critical tipping points. However, it also concluded that the loss of biodiversity could still be slowed down through coordinated action. From these conclusions, the Conference of Parties of the Convention for Biological diversity adopted in 2010 the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 with 5 Aichi strategic Biodiversity Goals, which include a set of 20 achievable targets ultimately aimed at achieving a 2050 vision of a world “where biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people”.

      The GBO-5 will be published in 2020. It should provide a final evaluation on the achievements of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and give an outlook of the follow-up to this plan starting in 2021. Specific recommendations and methodologies were defined to this end in 2016 3.

      The progress towards these targets can be followed via the Aichi targets newsletter4. The GBO-4 was published almost at the midterm towards the 2020 deadline as a review progress towards the goals of the Strategic Plan and to assess what further action governments may need to take to achieve the targets they collectively committed to for 2020.

      GB04 - The five inter-dependant strategic Aichi Goals for 20205

      • Strategic Goal A: Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society
      • Strategic Goal B: Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use
      • Strategic Goal C: To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity
      • Strategic Goal D: Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services
      • Strategic Goal E: Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building

      This progress report6 towards each of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets underlined why each of the target is important and included:

      1. A summary of the recent trends, current status and future projections relating to the targets;
      2. An overall assessment of the likelihood of reaching each component of the target based on our current trajectory;
      3. Examples of actions and issues helping to illustrate both the progress made and the challenges still faced;
      4. Key actions available to governments to help achieve each target.

      How has biodiversity globally evolved so far, in terms of the 2011-2020 strategic plan?

        Even if there is an increase in the response to biodiversity issues, there is also an increase in the pressures on biodiversity, which globally results in a further general degradation of the state of biodiversity. Extrapolations from a range of indicators suggest indeed that, based on current trends, pressures on biodiversity will continue to increase at least until 2020, and that the status of biodiversity will continue to decline.

        Meanwhile, the key findings from the regional progress midterm reports7 are that 11 out of 20 Aïchi Targets were ‘on track’ or progressing towards achievements, and eight show no significant progress or movement away from achievement. The suite of these responses to regional pressures on biodiversity varies of course from one region to another. Except maybe towards conserving at least 17 % of terrestrial and inland water areas, the mid-term report on the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 suggested in most cases that progress was not sufficient to achieve the targets set for 2020. However, even if additional action was required, the majority of targets were still achievable, even if challenging to meet.

        How much progress was made to meet the 20 Aïchi biodiversity Targets set for 2020?

          A “Target dashboard" was build to summarize the progress towards each of the 20 Targets, broken down into their components, including a level of confidence based on the available evidence. The global key elements of the midterm status in 2014 for the 20 targets are summarized in the five areas below:

          1. Regarding the underlying causes of the loss of biodiversity

          Public awareness of biodiversity and its importance appears to be increasing in both the developed and developing world (Target 1), and achieving this goal is critical to all other parts of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity. Based on the limited evidence available, important progress has been achieved in incorporating biodiversity values into the planning and accounting of countries (Target 2). There is a shift in agricultural subsidies towards positive incentives for conserving biodiversity (Target 3), and natural resources are being used much more efficiently to produce goods and services. However, this progress is overwhelmed both by some governments that continue to provide subsidies harmful to biodiversity, and by our greatly increased total levels of consumption (Target 4).

          2. Regarding reduction of the pressure on biodiversity

          Globally, unsustainable practices still cause substantial environmental degradation and biodiversity loss (Target 7). Overfishing continues to be a major problem even if an increasing number of fisheries, concentrated in the developed countries, are certified as sustainable (Target 6) which, like for certified forestry and adoption of good agricultural practices, signifies more sustainable production.

          Nutrient pollution remains a significant threat to aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity. It has stabilized in parts of Europe and North America but is projected to still increase in other regions like other forms of pollution such as from chemicals, pesticides and plastics (Target 8).

          If loss of forest habitats has been significantly slowed in some regions, for example the Brazilian Amazon; deforestation in many tropical areas of the world is still increasing, and habitats of all types including grasslands, wetlands and river systems, continue to be fragmented and degraded (Target 5).

          The overall rate of invasions with great economic and ecological costs shows no sign of slowing although governments are increasingly taking steps to control and eradicate invasive alien species (Target 9). Multiple land and marine based pressures on coral reefs continue to increase. Less information is available regarding trends for other ecosystems (Target 10).

          3. Regarding the safeguarding of ecosystems

          The objective to conserve 17 % of terrestrial areas by 2020 (Target 11) is likely to be met globally on basis of commitments taken, although protected area networks remain ecologically unrepresentative and many critical sites for biodiversity are poorly conserved with inadequate management of protected areas remaining widespread. The objective to protect 10% of coastal and marine areas is also on course to be met in coastal waters, although open ocean and deep sea areas, including the high seas, are not well covered

          Despite individual success stories, the average risk of extinction for birds, mammals and amphibians is still increasing (Target 12). Genetic diversity of domesticated livestock is eroding, with more than one-fifth of breeds at risk of extinction, and the wild relatives of domesticated crop species are increasingly threatened by habitat fragmentation and climate change (Target 13).

          4. Regarding the enhancement of the benefits of ecosystem services

          Habitats important for ecosystem services, for example wetlands and forests, continue to be lost and degraded (Target 14) even if restoration is under way for some depleted or degraded ecosystems. Abandonment of farmland in some regions including Europe, North America and East Asia is enabling ‘passive restoration’ on a significant scale (Target 15). The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization entered into force in 2014, opening up new opportunities for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources (Target 16).

          5. Regarding the facilitation of the implementation of the ‘Plan for Biodiversity’

          National biodiversity strategies and action plans were expected to be in place for most Parties by 2015 (Target 17). In the meantime, traditional knowledge continues to decline as indicated by the loss of linguistic diversity and large-scale displacement of indigenous and local communities. However, this trend is reversed in some places through growing interest in traditional cultures and involvement of local communities in management of protected areas (Target 18). Data and information on biodiversity are being shared much more widely, but much data and information remain inaccessible and capacity is lacking to mobilize them in many countries (Target 19).

          Regarding progress towards the mobilization of financial resources from all sources, there is insufficient data to report with confidence. Based on the data available, it appears anyway that for effective implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020, further efforts are needed to significantly increase these financial resources (Target 20).

          What progress has already been made in each of the different regions of the world?

            All regions were making good progress on Target 11 (protected areas), Target 16 (ratifying the Nagoya Protocol), Target 17 (the adoption of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) as policy instruments), and on Targets 18 and 19 (traditional knowledge respected, and knowledge shared, improved and applied).

            However, no region was making progress on Target 6 (sustainable management of marine resources), Target 8 (reduction of pollution), Target 10 (reduction of pressures on vulnerable ecosystems) and Target 14 (ecosystem and essential services safeguarded).

            • The West Asia report shows that only eight out of 20 targets show signs of progress but that water scarcity, worsened by climate change, is a real threat to biodiversity. However, there has been considerable investment in building capacity and policymaking in the region over the past five years.
            • In Asia and the Pacific, 13 out of 20 Targets show ‘no significant progress’ or movement away towards achievement, six are ‘on track’ or progressing towards achievement. The report highlighted the pressures caused by unsustainable wildlife trade due to growth in demand and the devastating impact that invasive alien species can have on oceanic islands. Nonetheless, protected area networks have grown and voluntary certification schemes are showing modest growth.
            • In Latin America and the Caribbean, 13 out of 20 Targets are ‘on track’ or progressing towards achievement, and six show ‘no significant progress. Despite rapid economic growth in driving agricultural expansion and intensification, urbanization, infrastructure expansion and increasing pressure on natural resources, the region had developed considerable capacity and expertise in a variety of conservation responses including the development of payment for ecosystem services schemes and ecotourism.

            What are the key challenges?

              As many examples of recent environmental successes illustrate, solutions for a sustainable future require a wide range of deep societal transformations but there is no individual, simple policy tool available to address all of these challenges. Success stories have indeed demonstrated that effective action comes from systemic approaches and methodologies simultaneously addressing multiple causes of biodiversity loss. This can be done through monitoring and data analysis, changing economic incentives, applying market pressures, enforcing rules and regulations, involving indigenous and local communities and stakeholders and targeting conservation of threatened species and ecosystems—among many other routes to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. The problem is that these systemic approaches are still too often considered in a derogatory way and insufficiently taught and applied.

              In order to evaluate where the main progress remains to be made, the Convention on Biological Diversity, identified the four main biodiversity challenges whose combinations could push some systems beyond tipping points at regional scales by 2050:

              1. Climate change which is projected to become a major driver of biodiversity loss and ecosystem change by 2050 and efforts to mitigate climate change could have very large impacts, both positive and negative, on biodiversity;
              2. Substantial increase of demand for fertile land projected by 2050 both for expanded agriculture and bioenergy could result in a global land squeeze in which there is not sufficient room to conserve natural terrestrial habitats, leading to large declines in biodiversity;
              3. Likely collapse of many wild fisheries with aquaculture foreseen to dominate fish production by 2050;
              4. Water scarcity increase in many regions while water for food production dominates projected future (and currently already accounts for 84%) global water consumption.

              There is evidence that several large-scale regime shifts among these challenges have already started, and scenarios suggest that these could cause substantial disruption of social-ecological systems. Very substantial changes from business-as-usual trends are thus needed in order to slow down and then stop the loss of biodiversity, keep average global temperature increases below 2°C, and attain other human development goals.

              What are the key actions identified to accelerate progress towards meeting the strategic goals and the 20 Aïchi Targets?

                Regarding the Strategic goal A: Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society, the key potential actions that could accelerate progress towards if more widely applied are:

                1. Coherent, strategic and sustained communication efforts, strategies and campaigns to increase awareness of biodiversity and its values, and of ways to support its conservation and sustainable use.
                2. Better use of the social sciences, including an understanding of the social, economic and cultural drivers motivating behaviour and their interplay, in order to improve the design of communication and engagement campaigns, and of relevant policies.
                3. The further compilation of environmental statistics and building environmental-economic accounts, including developing and maintaining national accounts of biodiversity-related natural resource stocks (such as forests and water) and where possible, integrating these into national financial accounts.
                4. Developing and implementing policy plans, including priorities and timelines, leading to the removal, phasing out, or reform of harmful subsidies in cases where candidate incentives and subsidies for elimination, phase-out or reform are already known, taking timely action.
                5. Better targeting and integration of agri-environmental schemes and other policy instruments towards desired biodiversity outcomes.
                6. Strengthening partnerships among companies and industry associations, civil society and government agencies, in an accountable and transparent manner, to promote sustainable practices that address biodiversity.

                Regarding the Strategic goal B, The reduction of the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use, the key potential actions that could accelerate progress towards are:

                • Developing integrated policies to address habitat loss and degradation covering both positive and negative incentives;
                • Making greater use of innovative fisheries management systems, such as community co-management and phasing out destructive fishing practices;
                • Making agriculture more efficient and reducing nutrient pollution by improving nutrient use efficiency, recycling of sewage and industrial waste water
                • Identifying and controlling the main pathways responsible for species invasions, including through the development of border control or quarantine measures and making full use of risk analysis and international standards.
                • Sustainably managing fisheries on coral reefs and closely associated ecosystems, combined with managing coastal zones and inland.

                Strategic Goal C: Improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity, the key actions should be:

                1. Expanding protected area networks to become more representative of the planet’s ecological regions, including deep sea and ocean habitats, and improving and regularly assessing their management effectiveness;
                2. Ensuring that no species is subject to unsustainable exploitation and developing species action plans aimed directly at particular threatened species;
                3. Promoting public policies and incentives that maintain local varieties of crops and indigenous breeds in production systems;
                4. Integrating the conservation of the wild relatives of domesticated crops and livestock in management plans for protected areas.

                Regarding the Strategic Goal D: Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services; these actions would be:

                1. Identifying those ecosystems that are particularly important in providing ecosystem services, this at the national level, with the involvement of relevant stakeholders and with particular attention to ecosystems upon which vulnerable groups;
                2. Reducing the pressures on those ecosystems providing essential services, and where necessary, enhancing their protection and identifying opportunities and priorities for restoration (including when feasible of an economically viable activity) including for areas undergoing abandonment of agricultural or other human-dominated use;
                3. Putting in place appropriate legislative, administrative or policy measures and undertaking associated awareness-raising and capacity building activities.

                Regarding the Strategic Goal E: Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity-building these actions should include:

                1. Ensuring with the participation of all stakeholders that national biodiversity strategies and action plans are up to date and aligned; for example by setting national targets with corresponding indicators and monitoring mechanisms;
                2. Promoting initiatives and research projects involving local and indigenous communities that support traditional and local knowledge of biodiversity and promote customary sustainable use, including traditional health care initiative, indigenous languages, and in the creation, governance and management of protected areas;
                3. Strengthening and promoting the further mobilization of and access to data by promoting a culture of data sharing, and citizen scientists’ contributions;
                4. Establishing or strengthening monitoring programmes, including in particular where possible “hotspots” of biodiversity change;
                5. Developing national financial plans for biodiversity aligned, where possible, with national annual and multi-annual financial planning cycles;
                6. Increasing national and international flows of resources for biodiversity, including by exploring innovative financial mechanisms, such as subsidy reform and payment for ecosystem services schemes.

                How do biodiversity preservation goals fit into the Millenium Goals on sustainable development?

                  In the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), ecosystem services are essential for human wellbeing in providing food, water, energy and other benefits. As many of the measures required will also support these goals of greater food security, healthier populations and improved access to clean water and sustainable energy for all, it is clear that the Strategic Plan for safeguarding biodiversity is also part of the agenda for sustainable development.

                  This Outlook provides an opportunity to bring biodiversity into the mainstream of the broader development agenda by allowing consideration of the critical links between biodiversity and long-term goals for human development. Among them, the facts that :

                  • Biodiversity and ecosystem services can contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction. Equally, biodiversity loss has negative consequences for society, and action to reduce pressures on biodiversity can support a broad range of societal benefits.
                  • Meeting the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets would help achieve goals for other global development priorities including poverty, hunger, health and a sustainable supply of clean energy, food and water.
                  • The 7th Millennium Development Goal specifically covering environmental sustainability (MDG7) was not sufficiently clear on biodiversity issues, possibly diverting attention and actions away from them;

                  Evidence suggests that actions to conserve biodiversity offers solutions to a range of societal challenges including climate change, food and water security, and can benefit the poor if designed appropriately.

                  What are the general conclusions of this 4thGlobal Biodiversity Outlook Report?

                    The main global conclusion was that continuing with ‘business as usual’ in our present patterns of behaviour, consumption, production and economic incentives will not allow us to realize the vision of a world with resilient ecosystems capable of meeting human needs into the future.

                    In this context:

                    1. Meeting the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets would contribute significantly to broader global priorities: reducing hunger and poverty, improving human health, ensuring a sustainable supply of energy, food and clean water, contributing to climate-change mitigation and adaptation, combating desertification and land degradation, and reducing vulnerability to disasters;
                    2. The individual Targets should not be addressed in isolation. Actions to achieve the various Biodiversity Targets should be undertaken in a coherent and coordinated manner;
                    3. Implementation of a package of actions by governments and private stakeholders will be necessary to attain most of the Targets;
                    4. Broaden political and general support for the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 will be necessary;
                    5. Partnerships at all levels are required for effective implementation of the Strategic Plan.
                    6. Enhanced technical and scientific cooperation among Parties are opportunities to support implementation of the Strategic Plan through. Further capacity-building support will also be needed.
                    7. An overall substantial increase in total funding is mandatory for the implementation of the Strategic Plan related to biodiversity.

                    1 Source : Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Biodiversity Synthesis (2005)
                    2 The Convention on Biological Diversity is one of the three ‘Rio Conventions’, emerging from the UN Conference on Environment and Development, also known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. It came into force at the end of 1993.
                    6 Leadley, et al (2014): Progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets: An Assessment of Biodiversity Trends, Policy Scenarios and Key Actions. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Montreal, Canada. Technical Series No. 78

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