Innovation key to meet Aichi biodiversity targets by 2020

Meeting the goals of Strategic Plan for Biodiversity can help sustainable development post-2015

By Moushumi Sharma
Published: Tuesday 07 October 2014

Healthy biodiversity is crucial for sustainable development (Photo credit: UNEP)

The United Nations (UN) has called for “bold and innovative” action to meet the goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity by 2020. The fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO4) says there has been significant progress in meeting some components of the Aichi biodiversity targets, but additional action is required to keep the plan on course.

The report was released at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity (COP 12), which opened in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on September 29.

In 2002, the Parties to the Convention on Biological Biodiversity (CBD) committed to a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. The effort was successful only partially and hence, a renewed commitment was made in 2010 in the form of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 for urgent action in this decade. It comprised of 20 new targets, called the Aichi biodiversity targets.

“This watershed moment was a recognition that biodiversity is not a problem to be solved, but essential for sustainable development, and the foundation for human well-being,” Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, UN assistant-Secretary-General and CBD executive secretary, writes in GBO4.

A press release by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says that with the progress achieved till date, there is scope to end biodiversity loss, in addition to achieving goals related to climate change, land degradation and sustainable development.

Speaking at the meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlined the link between biodiversity and sustainable development and urged member states and stakeholders to take the report’s conclusions into account in their planning. “This is all the more important at this critical time, as the world intensifies action to meet the Millennium Development Goals, craft a successor agenda for sustainable development and adopt a meaningful legal climate change agreement – all by the year 2015,” he writes in the report.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP executive director, also emphasised the importance of biodiversity. “The factors prompting policymakers to safeguard biodiversity are increasingly economic in nature. Without healthy biodiversity, livelihoods, ecosystem services, habitats and food security will be compromised,” he said. Citing the example of deforestation, he writes in the report, “Reducing deforestation rates have been estimated to result in an annual benefit of US $183 billion in the form of ecosystem services.”

Key points of the Global Development Outlook report:
  • Meeting the Aichi biodiversity targets will contribute to global priorities on the post-2015 development agenda.
  • There are opportunities to support implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 through enhanced technical and scientific cooperation among parties to the Conference on Biological Diversity.
  • For success of the strategic plan, all levels of government and stakeholders across society need to be aware of the multiple values of biodiversity and related ecosystems.
  • There is need for an overall substantial increase in total biodiversity-related funding.

Biodiversity: there is hope to reverse loss

Some of the areas that have witnessed progress include increase in protected areas, access and benefit-sharing of resources, promotion of sustainable use, slowing down of loss of forest habitats like the Brazilian Amazon, restoration efforts of degraded ecosystems, especially forests and wetlands, among others. Belgium, Belarus, Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland are some of the countries that have set targets to restore at least 15 per cent of degraded lands.

For the majority of the targets, however, additional efforts are required to meet the 2020 deadline – reduction of pollution and pressures on the ecosystem from land-based and marine activities and preventing the extinction of known threatened species. What is needed is a package of actions, such as legal or policy framework, socio-economic incentive and public and stakeholder engagement.

“Since the agreement on the Strategic Plan on Biodiversity in 2010, encouraging steps have been taken around the world to tackle biodiversity loss at many levels. This plan and the Aichi biodiversity targets remain a solid framework on which to concentrate action that will lead us towards a world in harmony with nature,” the report concludes.

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