UN Report

The most comprehensive IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services paints an alarming picture. The report compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries analyses the relationship between economic development pathways and their impacts on nature and it predicts that around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.

The native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. And the available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10% of insect species are threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.

Based on a thorough analysis of the available evidence, the report ranks five culprits are, in descending order: (1) changes in land and sea use; (2) direct exploitation of organisms; (3) climate change; (4) pollution and (5) invasive alien species.

The Report highlights doubled greenhouse gas emissions since 1980. This has raised average global temperatures by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius. We are already experiencing its impact on our ecosystem. And it is expected to increase over the coming decades, in some cases surpassing the impact of land and sea use change and other drivers.

Despite all-around efforts to conserve nature and implement policies, the Report also finds that global goals of conserving and sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories. , and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors.

Other notable findings of the Report include:

  • Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions.
  • More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production.
  • The value of agricultural crop production has increased by about 300% since 1970, raw timber harvest has risen by 45% and approximately 60 billion tons of renewable and nonrenewable resources are now extracted globally every year – having nearly doubled since 1980.
  • Land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23% of the global land surface, up to US$577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss and 100-300 million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection.
  • In 2015, 33% of marine fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels; 60% were maximally sustainably fished, with just 7% harvested at levels lower than what can be sustainably fished.
  • Urban areas have more than doubled since 1992.
  • Plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980, 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes from industrial facilities are dumped annually into the world’s waters, and fertilizers entering coastal ecosystems have produced more than 400 ocean ‘dead zones’, totalling more than 245,000 km2 (591-595) – a combined area greater than that of the United Kingdom.
  • Negative trends in nature will continue to 2050 and beyond in all of the policy scenarios explored in the Report, except those that include transformative change – due to the projected impacts of increasing land-use change, exploitation of organisms and climate change, although with significant differences between regions.

The Report also advocates a wide range of pathways of achieving sustainability across agriculture, forestry, marine systems, freshwater systems, urban areas, energy, finance, and many others.

For the detailed UN report, click the following link… https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report/

Udayan Arya

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