Healthy biodiversity is no luxury - it’s the foundation of all life on Earth

24 March 2010 | News story

Gland, Switzerland, 23 March 2010 (IUCN) – We have failed to meet the target adopted through the Convention on Biological Diversity to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 and we are currently witnessing the greatest extinction crisis since dinosaurs disappeared from our planet 65 million years ago. Urgent action is needed to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences, both for nature and for people around the world.

“Policy and action preventing further biodiversity loss need to be in place by 2020 and biodiversity needs to be conserved and restored by 2050” says Sonia Peña Moreno, Policy Officer at IUCN. “IUCN calls for 20 strong targets to be delivered by 2020, addressing both the direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss.”

IUCN is calling for a short, focused and action-oriented Strategic Plan to be adopted at the meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, in October. It should embrace all components of biodiversity - ecosystems, species and genes. The Plan should also include all three objectives of the Convention: to conserve biological diversity, to use it in a sustainable way and to share its benefits in a fair and equitable manner, and it should clearly highlight the links between biodiversity conservation, human livelihoods and poverty eradication.

Even with incomplete information on biodiversity trends and limited assessment measures, we know enough to conclude that biodiversity is in serious trouble, and that unsustainable human activity is undermining the resilience of both people and nature. According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 60% of ecosystem services worldwide have become degraded in the past 50 years, and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ gives us alarming facts on species extinction rates, which are increasing continuously.

Simply aiming at halting biodiversity loss is no longer sufficient; we also need to restore and maintain the populations, habitats and ecological cycles that enable biodiversity and ecosystem services - such as food, water or medicine - to persist” says Jane Smart, Director of IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group. “To achieve this, we need engagement on all possible levels, with the economic sector, the development community through to the public sector and civil society. It is critical that the role of biodiversity as the foundation of life, livelihoods and development is understood by all.”

To meet these goals, perverse incentives, like subsidies that harm biodiversity, need to be removed and new regulations and financial incentives need to be put in place, clearly reflecting the value of natural resources. Greater interaction between science and policy, and cohesion between multilateral environmental agreements and other organizations are also essential for the implementation of the new biodiversity targets, according to IUCN experts.