Science to Share

The Circle of Life

Power of global biodiversity targets

In September 2020, the United Nations reported that NONE of the 20 targets for saving biodiversity have been achieved. Why did we fail? And what can we do for the future?

 Why is biodiversity important?

It’s because nature is beautiful. – True. Because I like animals. – Of course, right. Everyone has their own reasons. One reason is that we humans consume components of ecosystems for our lives, even if we don’t want to do so. We are only a part of the circle of life.

Furthermore, since other components such as plants and animals exist nearby, mankind and other species influence each other directly and intricately. It’s impossible to predict the results of a single species loss. In order to use components of ecosystems sustainably even in the far future, it’s necessary to keep them available by saving biodiversity.

What have countries done to save biodiversity?

Biodiversity decline can occur everywhere on the earth. Moreover, a threat to biodiversity such as polluted air and water doesn’t stop at borders. That means that cooperation among multiple countries is indispensable.

In order to cooperate to fight against such issues, UN member states made a treaty named the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992. This convention has 3 main objectives: (1) biodiversity conservation, (2) sustainable use of species and ( 3) fair and equitable use of the benefits of genetic resources. Based on the convention, countries have taken various measures to less biodiversity loss As of 2018, the CBD has 196 parties (194 countries, Palestine and the EU).

Also, the parties review progress under the CBD and determine new targets at the meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) every around 2 years in a different country. For instance, the 6th meeting (COP 6) took place in The Hague in 2002. Many decisions such as one to save forest biodiversity were agreed at the meeting.

Aichi Targets: 20 biodiversity targets with the 2020 deadline

In 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity, a plan regarding biodiversity were created at the COP 10 meeting. This plan includes 20 targets to stop biodiversity loss, called the Aichi Targets after the name of the host city.

There are various targets, from an abstract one (ie Target 1: making people aware of the values ​​of biodiversity) to a detailed one (ie Target 11: conserving at least 17% of terrestrial and inland water areas). Every target has the deadline of 2020.

Target 8 (pollution reduced) has not been achieved. You can easily find those signs on streets. Photo by Tomo M.

The result was…

The result of the Aichi Targets was as mentioned at the beginning. The UN report said only 6 targets are partially achieved, while the others are not achieved or unknown. Unfortunately, that shows our steps taken in the last decade were not fully successful.

Although it’s difficult to specify a single reason for the failure, few quantitative targets and lack of follow-up action are possible ones.

Is it too late?

Absolutely not. There has been some important progress. For instance, an analysis in the report shows that the recent rate of forest destruction is lower than that of the previous decade. Besides, another assessment notes that the number of extinctions of birds and mammals would likely have been at least 2-4 times higher without conservation actions over the past decade.

Regarding the latter example, the underlying study points out that conservation actions were such as legislation, area protection, communication, and education. These were implemented by a combination of governments, NGOs, zoos, scientists, volunteers (you may have joined!) And others. Additionally, the study also states that a number of extinctions were prevented since the CBD was created.

In this way, having the same problem drives international cooperation and making global targets, which leads to conservation action at every level. Of course, measures taken in the last decade are not satisfactory. However, as the study indicates, such a series of steps helps, at least, decrease the speed of biodiversity loss.

One important step for the next decades is letting more people be interested in biodiversity. As a player for saving biodiversity, let’s think again what we can do next as an individual.

The next COP meeting is coming soon

In October 2021, the 15th meeting of the COP (COP 15) is due to take place in China. It’s desired that the next targets will be more accessible for everyone. What do you think will be agreed at the meeting? Keep on checking news!