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62 per cent of rural Africa depends on natural resources for its livelihood
The sixth session of Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which was held at Medellin, Colombia, last week saw the launch of five major regional biodiversity assessment reports and a global land degradation report. This meeting was attended by 750 world experts and policy makers. The five major assessments were done in Americas, Asia-Pacific region, Africa, Europe and central Asia. Over three years, 550 scientists have studied the biodiversity in these regions to lay out the current status of biodiversity and land quality at a global scale. Here's what the land degradation report says:
The report highlights rapid urban expansion and unsustainable management of croplands and grazing lands as the main reasons for this. “Avoiding, reducing and reversing this problem, and restoring degraded land, is an urgent priority to protect the biodiversity and ecosystem services vital to all life on Earth,” says Luca Montanarella, a co-chair from Italy at the event. “Wetlands have been particularly hard hit. We have seen losses of 87 per cent wetland areas since the start of the modern era,” she adds.
The estimated economic cost of biodiversity and ecosystem services lost because of land degradation is more than 10 per cent of annual global gross product. “The negative impacts are affecting at least 3.2 billion people,” says Robert Scholes, co-chair from South Africa.
The report adds that consumers benefiting from the overexploitation of natural resources are the ones least affected by land degradation, and therefore, have no reason to take action. For example, take the case of mining metal. It is extracted from one region and the end user is in another region. It’s the people in the mining area who are affected and the end user is least affected.
If necessary steps are not taken, the study projects that by 2050, land degradation and climate change are likely to force 50 to 700 million people to migrate. Montanarella adds: “By 2050, land degradation and climate change will together reduce global crop yields by an average of 10% and in some regions by up to 50%. In the future, most degradation will occur in Central and South America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia — areas that still have a lot of land suitable for agriculture.”
The report adds that the capacity of grazing lands to support livestock will continue to diminish, and thus, impact livestock diversity.
Measures suggested by experts:
Africa, which has 62 per cent of the rural population relying on natural resources for livelihood, is extremely vulnerable to climate change, says a report released at the sixth plenary session of Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) at Medellin, Colombia.
“Africa is the only place on Earth that has a huge number of mammals,” says Luthando Dziba, co-chair, Africa, at the session. “Yet today, African biodiversity is more threatened than ever before.”
By 2100, climate change would lead to loss of more than half of bird and mammal population in Africa, cause significant reduction in plant species and lake productivity will go down by 20-30 per cent, says the report.
Managing and conserving rich and diverse biodiversity is extremely important for the development of Africa. “The assessment has shown that the natural capital is most important for African development as 62 per cent of the African rural population depends on natural resources for livelihoods. This dependence on natural resources means it is important that African government and communities ensure the biodiversity is well managed and conserved,” he adds.
If Africa continues its current resource usage pattern, 500,000 sq km of its land may get degraded, says the report. “The population in Africa is expected to double by 2050 and the rapid unplanned urbanisation will put immense pressure on land and affect biodiversity,” adds Dziba.
Climate change and pollution also have far-reaching implications on fisheries, food security, tourism and overall marine biodiversity, which make significant economic, social and cultural contributions. “One of the key measures the African government has taken is increasing the number of protected areas. Steps like integrating development planning with necessary policy changes can prove helpful in managing the biodiversity in a sustainable way,” the African co-chair adds.
As much as 65 per cent of Americas’ natural resources are not available to it anymore
An average American citizen consumes three times more natural resources than any other average global citizen, shows a study conducted on biodiversity in Americas. This study was released at the sixth plenary session of Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) held in Medellin, Colombia.
This goes to show that although the Americas has 40 per cent of the world’s natural resources, people in the region are using these resources more intensively than nature’s ability to renew itself, says the report.
Jake Rice, a co-chair of the event representing Americas, says that although 13 per cent of the world’s population lives in Americas, they are exploiting nearly a quarter of natural resources available in the world. “Americas’ global ecological footprint stands at 22.8 per cent, which means an average citizen in the Americas is consuming nature’s resources three times more than an average global citizen,” says Rice.
While, on one hand, the statistics suggest that Americas has over consumed resources, on the other hand, it shows that even Americas’ biodiversity is declining.
As much as 65 per cent of Americas’ natural resources are not available to it anymore, highlights the study.
The major reasons behind this are increasing wealth, which increases consumption and pressure on nature, land transformation, pollution and over harvesting, says Rice The amount of biodiversity the Americas had during the European settlement, has seen a 30 per cent cut and this number may touch 40 per cent by 2050 if necessary steps are not taken, adds Rice.
“This decline is only going to accelerate as economic prosperity is improving and leading to greater consumption of natural resources,” adds the co-chair representing the Americas.
How to resolve this matter?
The experts and policy makers, who attended the event, came up with the following solutions:
A study on biodiversity says 42 per cent of terrestrial animal and plant species have vanished in the last decade
Human activities like pollution, natural resource extraction and land use, are behind the declining population of fishes, terrestrial animal and plant species, says Mark Raounsevell in Europe and central Asia, a co-chair at the sixth plenary session of Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
This event, which was held in Medellin, Colombia, saw the launch of four major regional biodiversity assessment reports on America, Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe and Central Asia. Raounsevell, who was representing Europe and central Asia, says, “The fish population has although seen a 26 per cent dip, it recently also saw 2 per cent rise owing to policy changes by governments.”
Over the years, Europe and central Asia has seen massive decline in biodiversity. As much as 42 per cent of terrestrial animal and plant species have vanished in the last decade. Another sector that is under threat is freshwater ecosystem. The co-chair says human activities, including land use, natural resource extraction and pollution, are major reasons for this decline, apart from climate change.
Other reason for habitat degradation is the current usage of natural resources, which is unsustainable and does not follow indigenous knowledge and other biodiversity-friendly practices, according to Raounsevell.
He adds that Europe and central Asia consume more than it produces, leaving a large ecological footprint on the rest of the world.
Biodiversity experts have come up with few solutions:
Economic growth is leading to the decline of biodiversity, says a report released in Colombia
By 2048, the Asia-Pacific region may not have any fish stocks left. The region risks losing 45 per cent of its biodiversity and 90 per cent of coral reef, says a report released at the sixth plenary session of Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in Medellin, Colombia.
This is the situation when biodiversity and ecosystem services contributed 7.6 per cent to average annual economic growth between 1990 and 2010. “Enormous economic growth has taken place over the years and this has led to a decline in biodiversity,” says Sonali Senartana Sellamattu, co-chair for Asia-Pacific at the event.
This growth is a threat to all major ecosystems, particularly forest, alpine, wetlands and coral reefs. Also, the number of wild animals and mammals has registered a steep dip.
There has also been a reduction in crop genetic resources as a result of dwindling cultivation of native crops. “Another reason for habitat degradation is abundant growth of alien species,” says Sellamattu.
There’s a flip side to this: forest cover has increased in certain sub-regions; marine protected areas in the region increased by almost 14 per cent over the past 25 years and terrestrial protected areas increased by 0.3 per cent. Forest cover increased by 2.5 per cent, with the highest increase in North-East Asia (22.9 per cent), and protected areas increased by 5.8 per cent in South Asia, which is in line with the Aichi targets on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “But this is not enough to conserve biodiversity,” says Sellamattu.
Around 750 world experts and policy makers attended this event to discuss and analyse the situation. These are few of the solutions they came up with: