03 October 2014

More investment needed to reach international biodiversity targets by 2020

Biodiversity targets

A new study published in Science today reveals that, despite some progress, more needs to be done to reach the internationally agreed set of biodiversity targets by 2020. The study was conducted by 51 experts including Neil Burgess from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen.

Ecosystems and the biodiversity that underpin them are vital for sustaining human life. Recognizing this, in 2010, 193 nations agreed on a set of 20 biodiversity-related goals, known as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

At this mid-way point to the 2020 deadline, a team of 51 experts from over 30 institutions have assessed progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and projected whether or not they will be met. They reveal that despite increasing management efforts and financial investment in protecting biodiversity, and a remarkable expansion in protected areas on land and at sea, accumulated and increasing pressures on the natural world mean it is unlikely that most of the targets will be met by 2020 if we remain on our current trajectory.

One of the world's protected areas: Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Tanzania. Credit: Rasmus Gren Havmøller. Get photo

"We are halfway in time, but not halfway towards meeting the targets. Current efforts can not keep up with the increasing pressure on nature, but it is still possible to reach more of the biodiversity targets towards 2020 if efforts are improved", says co-author Professor Neil Burgess from the Danish National Research Foundation's Centre for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate and the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

The results of this study feed into a global assessment of the status and trends of biodiversity – the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-4) – which is being released on 6 October during the upcoming meeting to the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea. During this meeting the necessary actions and novel solutions required to meet the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and preserve biodiversity will be discussed.

Also some successes

Undescribed species of threehorned chameleon (Trioceros sp. Nov.) from Udzungwa Mountains NP, Tanzania. Credit: Rasmus Gren Havmøller. Get photo

While targets for sustainable fisheries, reducing habitat loss, pollution, invasive species and the impacts of climate change on biodiversity are lagging behind, the study also reveals some successes.

- For example, we are well on track on the target of designating 17% of Earth's land area to protected areas by 2020, and efforts to increase public awareness of the biodiversity crisis and the scientific understanding of it has seen significant improvement, says Neil Burgess. He will also report the findings on the 23rd of October at the Sustainable Science Congress in Copenhagen, Global Challenges: Achieving Sustainability.

Link to the article in Science


Professor Neil Burgess
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Postdoc Jonas Geldmann (has supplied data for the study)
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Elisabeth Wulffeld, Communications Officer
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