“Humanity is at a crossroads in terms of the legacy it leaves for future generations,” the report warns. “Biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate and the pressures leading to this decline are increasing.”
Of the 20 goals, only six have been “partially achieved”. On average, participating countries report that more than a third of the national targets are on track to be met; half of the national targets are slower; 11% of the targets do not show significant progress, and 1% are actually moving in the wrong direction.
“Earth’s living systems are generally compromised. And the more humanity exploits nature in unsustainable ways and undermines its contribution to humans, the more we undermine our own well-being, security and prosperity.”
What the world has achieved
First, the good news: there has been some limited progress over the last decade.
The six objectives that have been partially met are: prevention of invasive species, protection of protected areas, access to and sharing the benefits of genetic resources, strategies and action plans for biodiversity, information sharing and resource mobilization.
We have significantly expanded the number of protected natural areas, both on land and at sea. And we introduced more conservation measures such as hunting restrictions, which paid off.
“Without such action, the extinction of birds and mammals in the last decade would probably have been two to four times greater,” the report said.
What we failed to do
The list of achievements is encouraging and shows that it is possible for governments to take united action with concrete results, but, the report warns, this is not close enough.
The 20 targets can be further divided into 60 “elements”, of which 13 show either no progress or, worse, reverse, according to the report.
Habitat loss and degradation remain high, especially in forests and tropical regions. Global wetlands are shrinking and rivers are fragmented, posing a “critical threat to freshwater diversity,” the report said.
These weak efforts are reflected in our funding. According to the report, governments worldwide spend about $ 78-91 billion a year on biodiversity efforts – well below the required hundreds of billions of dollars.
Even in areas that have made progress, the situation is not really improving – it is simply declining more slowly and perhaps less severely than if no action is taken at all. For example, although some countries have managed more sustainable marine fish stocks, one-third of the world’s marine stocks are still overfished – a larger share than 10 years ago, the report said.
What do we have to do
Immediate action is needed more urgently than ever; The destruction of the Earth’s biodiversity will affect us all and will be particularly harmful to “indigenous peoples and local communities, as well as the world’s poor and vulnerable, relying on their biodiversity for their well-being,” the report said.
He added that despite our failure to achieve any of Aichi’s goals, “it is not too late to slow down, stop and eventually reverse current trends in biodiversity.” Many of the necessary actions have already been identified and agreed under international treaties, such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (from which the United States is currently withdrawing).
The report outlined eight areas where we need to move towards sustainability: land and forests, agriculture, food systems, fisheries and oceans, cities and infrastructure, fresh water, climate action and an integrated global single health framework.
There are more specific steps in each area – for example, cities need to create more green space, take into account the impact on biodiversity when building new roads or infrastructure, and promote local food production.
Finding these solutions is “challenging,” but critical, and we’ve seen what happens when we fail. The Covid-19 pandemic, for example, illustrates “the link between our treatment of the living world and the emergence of human disease,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in the report.
“Strengthening action to conserve and restore biodiversity – the living tissue of our planet and the basis of human life and prosperity – is an essential part of this collective effort,” he added.