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World is ‘on notice’ as major UN report shows one million species face extinction

A hard-hitting report into the impact of humans on nature shows that nearly one million species risk becoming extinct within decades, while current efforts to conserve the earth’s resources will likely fail without radical action, UN biodiversity experts said on Monday.

Speaking in Paris at the launch of the Global Assessment study – the first such report since 2005 – UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said that its findings put the world “on notice”..

“Following the adoption of this historic report, no one will be able to claim that they did not know,” the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said. “We can no longer continue to destroy the diversity of life. This is our responsibility towards future generations.”

Highlighting the universal importance of biodiversity – the diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems – Ms. Azoulay said that protecting it “is as vital as fighting climate change”.

Presented to more than 130 government delegations for their approval at UNESCO headquarters, the report features the work of 400 experts from at least 50 countries, coordinated by the Bonn-based Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

In addition to providing exhaustive insights on the state of nature, ecosystems and how nature underpins all human activity, the study also discusses progress on key international goals, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The report also examines five main drivers of “unprecedented” biodiversity and ecosystem change over the past 50 years, identifying them as: changes in land and sea use; direct exploitation of organisms; climate change, pollution, and invasion of alien species.

Video: First Intergovernmental Global Assessment of Biodiversity

One in four species at risk of extinction

On at-risk fauna and flora, the study asserts that human activities “threaten more species now than ever before” – a finding based on the fact that around 25 per cent of species in plant and animal groups are vulnerable.

This suggests that around one million species “already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss”.

Without such measures there will be a “further acceleration” in the global rate of species extinction, which is already “at least tens to hundreds of times higher, than it has averaged over the past 10 million years”, the report states.

It notes that despite many local efforts, including by indigenous peoples and local communities, by 2016, 559 of the 6,190 domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture were extinct – around nine per cent of the total - and at least 1,000 more are threatened.

read more at UN News

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Secretary-General's message on World Wildlife Day

Secretary-General's message on World Wildlife Day -  3 March 2019

Marine species provide indispensable ecosystem services.  Plankton enrich the atmosphere with oxygen and more than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for sustenance and livelihoods.  Marine and coastal resources and the industries they support are estimated to be worth at least US$3 trillion a year, some 5 per cent of global GDP. 
 
Sustainably managing and protecting marine and coastal ecosystems are the objectives of Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Today, ocean life is under severe pressure, ranging from climate change to pollution, the loss of coastal habitats and the overexploitation of marine species.  Some one-third of commercial fish stocks are overfished, and many other species – from albatrosses to turtles – are imperilled by the unsustainable use of ocean resources.
 
The good news is that solutions are available.  For example, where fisheries are managed scientifically, most fish stocks have a good chance of recovery.  The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) is increasing regulation of marine species.  And the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is engaged in crafting a post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
 
On this World Wildlife Day, let us raise awareness about the extraordinary diversity of marine life and the crucial importance of marine species to sustainable development.  That way, we can continue to provide these services for future generations.
 

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Coral reefs can’t wait for world to take action, urges UN, as Biodiversity Conference gets underway

Sounding the alarm about the urgent need to protect coral reefs from extinction within decades, a new coalition of organizations, including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), was launched on Wednesday in Egypt during the UN Biodiversity Conference, to galvanize global leadership before it is too late.

 “It’s clear to anyone who puts their head below the waves that the fate of the world’s coral reefs is hanging in the balance,”. At the moment these undersea explosions of colour and life face an extremely bleak future.” 

 Erik Solheim, UNEP Chief

Coral reefs provide food and livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people around the world, support more than a quarter of all marine life, and protect communities and coastlines from natural disasters — and if urgent action is not taken, they could be lost forever.  

Eight international organisations have joined forces to advocate for decisive action to protect these natural wonders: UNEP, the International Coral Reef Initiative, the World Wildlife Fund, the Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Vulcan Inc., the Ocean Agency, and the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

“The expectations for this coalition could not be higher. Coral reef protection must become a global priority. Coral reefs need a better deal,” said Mr. Solheim, who unveiled the new partnership in the Egyptian coastal resort of Sharm El Sheikh. Dozens of ministers whose countries are party to the CBD are gathering there, together with experts and representatives of civil society organisations, to start a two-year process to adopt a global framework for protecting biodiversity, including coral reefs, around the world.

 [ full story on UN News ]

 

 

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Message on International Day for Biological Diversity - 22 May

The rich variety of life on Earth is essential for the welfare and prosperity of people today and for generations to come.

That is why, 25 years ago, the world’s nations agreed on the Convention for Biological Diversity.

The Convention has three goals: the global conservation of biodiversity, its sustainable use and the equitable sharing of its benefits. Achieving these objectives is integral to meet our goals for sustainable development. Protecting and restoring ecosystems and ensuring access to ecosystem services are necessary for the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. Reducing deforestation and land degradation and enhancing carbon stocks in forests, drylands, rangelands and croplands are needed for mitigating climate change. And protecting the biodiversity of forests and watersheds supports clean and plentiful water supplies.

These are just some of the benefits of biodiversity. Yet, despite this understanding, biodiversity loss continues around the globe. The answer is to intensify efforts and build on successes.

This year, Parties to the Convention will begin work on a new action plan to ensure that, by 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used for the benefit of all people.

The entire world needs to join this effort.

On this International Day for Biological Diversity, I urge governments, businesses and people everywhere to act to protect the nature that sustains us.

Our collective future depends on it.

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Report Demonstrates Benefits from Protecting Biodiversity

Montreal/Kolkata, 13 February 2015 - A ground-breaking report on biodiversity and health, launched today at the 14th World Congress on Public Health, in Kolkata, India, shows the significant contribution of biodiversity and ecosystem services to better human health.

The report, Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health, demonstrates that the relationship between biodiversity and human health is extensive and complex. It outlines the ways that the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity has positive impacts on human health, including through impacts on water and air quality, nutrition, non-communicable and infectious diseases, and medicines, among others.

Prepared by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the report features contributions from numerous partners and over 100 experts, including Bioversity International, COHAB Initiative, EcoHealth Alliance, Harvard School of Public Health, United Nations University, Wildlife Conservation Society's Health & Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages and many others.

"We hope this joint report will increase awareness and understanding not only of the intrinsic value of biodiversity, but also as a critical foundation for sustainable development, and for human health and well-being," said Dr. Maria Neira, WHO Director for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. "In particular, it should serve as a useful reference for the definition of the sustainable development goals and the post-2015 development agenda, which represent a unique opportunity to promote integrated approaches to protect human and planetary health."

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, said "Despite the clear role that biodiversity plays for human health, and thus for the Sustainable Development Goals, this linkage is not being made in policy forums. Hopefully this new report will help shed some light on this critical issue."

[ read the full story]

[ get the executive summary]

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Green economy transition promises benefits for small island states

Nairobi, 24 February 2014- Creating the enabling conditions for a Green Economy transition in Small Island Developing States (SIDS)from improved public investment to reliable market instruments and better governance will help the estimated 50 million SIDS residents build climate resilience, achieve economic growth and enjoy better standards of living.

The transition will offer opportunities for SIDS to better manage natural capital, protect the environment, create green jobs and achieve sustainable development, according to studies by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

 

UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, "For many Small Island Developing States future development is dependent on a very narrow resource base that is constantly challenged by the high-risk impacts of climate change and natural disasters. In our lifetime, there may be small island developing nations that will cease to exist as a result of sea level rise."

 

"From economic growth to climate change and food security, the issues facing SIDS are multi-dimensional and require integrated action to address them. An inclusive Green Economy approach offers opportunities for SIDS to better manage natural capital, protect the environment, create green jobs and achieve sustainable development. For this end, it is vital that the right enabling conditions are provided to generate and stimulate both public and private sector investments that incorporate broader environmental and social criteria," he added

[ read the full story ]

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