One step forward to halting biodiversity loss?

23 May 2010 | International news release

Governments have made “positive moves” towards coming up with a plan to reduce the current loss of biodiversity, which is threatening the future of our planet. Over the past two weeks, delegates at a meeting in Nairobi have been discussing the scientific and technical aspects behind a new “big plan” to save all life on earth, the planet’s biodiversity. Scientists from IUCN, who have been taking part in the discussions, say that they’re encouraged by the commitment shown by governments to develop a new Strategic Plan for the next ten years, which would set targets to reduce the global rate of biodiversity loss.

By 2020, we must have reduced the current pressures on biodiversity if the planet is to sustain humankind in the future,” says Jane Smart, Director, IUCN Biodiversity Conservation Group. “There’s been overwhelming support in Nairobi for 20 strong, ambitious but realistic targets for the next 10 years, designed to prevent the extinction crisis and restore the earth’s ecosystems."

The meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice to the Convention on Biological Diversity, or SBSTTA, which has been taking place in Nairobi, provides a scientific basis for targets to stem the loss of biodiversity, which were set in 2002, but have not been met.

SBSTTA has dealt with the science of proposed new targets. Next week the financial and political aspects will be discussed in Nairobi by the Working Group on the Review of Implementation (WGRI). IUCN says we have to make sure that these targets are accepted by WGRI and that politicians don’t disregard the science. WGRI will finalise exactly what wording to recommend to the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, in Nagoya, Japan, in October on the post-2010 Strategic Plan, including its vision, mission, strategic goals and targets.

The third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook shows that biodiversity loss is continuing at unprecedented rates. Urgent action is needed to ensure the resilience of people and nature, and to avoid catastrophic tipping points. Recovering from such dramatic changes is impossible in many instances and always difficult and costly. ‘Business as usual’ will not achieve a future for biodiversity.

There is a need for a ‘step change’ in ambition for the targets set for 2020, if the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity are to be met,” adds Jane Smart. “As Parties move into detailed negotiations on the draft Strategic Plan there will be a need to consider the driving context underpinning the decisions. Is it for example the global economic situation and the need for cuts in overall public expenditure? Or is it to invest now in what is necessary to halt biodiversity loss, and so avoid the much larger costs of inaction?”

IUCN urges Parties to ‘seize the moment’ and take the second of these two options and invest in what is necessary now. WGRI could therefore be a different kind of tipping point – a positive one that would guarantee a future for all life on earth, setting the stage for discussions that will take place when governments meet later in the year in Nagoya. This will be the most important meeting the world’s decision makers will ever attend.

The eyes of the world will now focus on the meeting in Nagoya, seen by many as a last ditch attempt to stop the alarming rate of biodiversity loss. 

Media team:
Nicki Chadwick, Media Relations Officer, m +41 79 528 3486, e nicki.chadwick@iucn.org