Considerations for the fifth Global Biodiversity Outlook: We have to take this second chance

These goals, ten years ago by the parties to the CBDoutlined the framework for action that all countries need for the period 2011-2020 as part of a strategic plan to save the planet’s biodiversity. The evaluation period has now expired, the grades are there and the spoiler alert: We have to leave the class again.

The The top line of GBO-5 makes for grim reading. Overall, it is clear that the world has not achieved the goals set in 2010 overall. None of the 20 goals were fully achieved and only six were even partially achieved. In the meantime, biodiversity continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate The WWF’s Living Planet Report, published five days before GBO-5, estimates an average 68% decline in global wildlife populations since 1970.

The headlines in the press this week have been dramatic, but can hardly be described as sensational. People use and destroy nature on an unprecedented scale. The planet is at a crossroads. A lost decade for nature.

While the loss of biodiversity is finally getting the attention of the mainstream press, much of it is hollow noise. It is still viewed as a niche issue in most sectors of government and society. Although the headline stats are disastrous, dig deeper into the report and you will discover the underlying signs of hope.

Orange-bellied parrot brought back from the brink, Copyright Pete Morris, from the Surfbirds Galleries

In particular, these come from evidence in the report obtained from birds. Even a cursory reading of the assessment shows that it relies heavily on indicators and analysis based on bird data, much of which was provided by BirdLife. Over half of the goals cite research and information on birds to assess whether the goal has been achieved. This confirms what we have known for a long time. Because of their broad spectrum and sensitivity to environmental change, birds are excellent indicators of biodiversity. By studying them, we gain insight into the health of our planet and can take or advocate action before it’s too late.

And despite its gloomy overall appearance, GBO-5 also features protective success stories that we can build on – almost half of which relate to birds. Shedding light on “areas of particular advancement”, these stories cover a range of topics from successful cases of invasive alien species eradication from islands, to protecting key biodiversity areas, preventing extinction, and mobilizing citizen science data. There is much inspiration from these stories, but we can only make progress in tackling the bigger picture if these various activities and efforts take place in a global framework in which governments commit not only to appropriate goals but to compliance with them They are held accountable by implementing the necessary changes.

These will be substantial. While the United Nations warns that we must address the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss by 2030 to prevent irreplaceable damage, the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature is still achievable – but requires extensive transformative changes in the way we humans interact with nature.

The GBO5 itself sets out a number of required transitions – including the need to transform production systems for agriculture, forestry and fisheries, revise our consumption patterns, and continue to address other pressures such as overexploitation and pollution.

Fortunately, there is one possible mechanism for these changes – the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP15) next year, when the global post-2020 biodiversity framework – essentially the successor to the Aichi goals – will be discussed and agreed by world governments. To support the development of this framework, our own publication “Birds and Biodiversity Targets” will be published on the September. Using the lessons learned from our avian research, we take an in-depth look at the successes and failures in achieving the Aichi goals and outline what the framework needs to achieve after 2020 to avoid repeating the shortcomings of its predecessor.

Until COP15, the BirdLife partnership will work on the world stage to ensure that the next goals are appropriate and appropriate – and that they are effectively implemented in the following UN decade of action. We have to take this second chance because the next time may be too late for a third.


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