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Natural world and humanity at a crossroads: UN Global Biodiversity Outlook report published

The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 is published by the United Nations CBD
“Our researchers are working across the spectrum of these challenges including supporting efforts in monitoring (including work on national and international-level indicators), management (investigating its impacts on a wide range of habitats, and how we can work with local stakeholders and communities to find equitable solutions), and reaching out to look for novel investment opportunities to support sustainable futures, as we are doing at our Glensaugh research farm”

Despite encouraging progress in several areas, the health of the natural world is suffering badly and getting worse. Eight transformative changes are, therefore, urgently needed to ensure human wellbeing and save the planet, the UN warns in a major report, and Hutton researchers are working across the spectrum of these challenges.

The report comes as the COVID-19 pandemic challenges people to rethink their relationship with nature, and to consider the profound consequences to their own wellbeing and survival that can result from continued biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystems.

The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 (GBO-5), published by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), offers an authoritative overview of the state of nature. It is a final report card on progress against the 20 global biodiversity targets agreed in 2010 with a 2020 deadline, and offers lessons learned and best practices for getting on track.

“This flagship report underlines that ‘humanity stands at a crossroads with regard to the legacy we wish to leave to future generations,’” said CBD Executive Secretary, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema.

“Many good things are happening around the world and these should be celebrated and encouraged. Nevertheless, the rate of biodiversity loss is unprecedented in human history and pressures are intensifying.  Earth’s living systems as a whole are being compromised.  And the more humanity exploits nature in unsustainable ways and undermines its contributions to people, the more we undermine our own well-being, security and prosperity.”

“As nature degrades,” Ms. Mrema continued, “new opportunities emerge for the spread to humans and animals of devastating diseases like this year’s coronavirus. The window of time available is short, but the pandemic has also demonstrated that transformative changes are possible when they must be made.”

Professor Rob Brooker, head of Ecological Sciences at the James Hutton Institute, commented: “The Global Biodiversity Outlook report evidences that we continue to see substantial and serious declines globally in the status of biodiversity and have failed to meet many of the targets set in 2010.

“This has huge implications for the many benefits we, in turn, receive from nature and has been brought into sharp relief by the Covid-19 crisis. There is evidence that taking concerted action can help to address declines – conservation actions have slowed or reversed declines in a small number of cases, but at the same time we see in some cases reduction in conservation action, for instance, declines in the number of sustainable fisheries.

“A major challenge now is getting engagement in biodiversity conservation action across multiple sectors, and achieving the same levels of investment as we are now starting to see in climate change; there is a lot of interest in this kind of investment but we need to find mechanisms by which it can bring fair benefit to all stakeholders.

“Our researchers are working across the spectrum of these challenges including supporting efforts in monitoring (including work on national and international-level indicators), management (investigating its impacts on a wide range of habitats, and how we can work with local stakeholders and communities to find equitable solutions), and reaching out to look for novel investment opportunities to support sustainable futures, as we are doing at our Glensaugh research farm.”

The report calls for a shift away from “business as usual” across a range of human activities. It outlines eight transitions that recognize the value of biodiversity, the need to restore the ecosystems on which all human activity depends, and the urgency of reducing the negative impacts of such activity:

  • The land and forests transition: conserving intact ecosystems, restoring ecosystems, combatting and reversing degradation, and employing landscape level spatial planning to avoid, reduce and mitigate land-use change.
  • The sustainable agriculture transition: redesigning agricultural systems through agroecological and other innovative approaches to enhance productivity while minimizing negative impacts on biodiversity.
  • The sustainable food systems transition: enabling sustainable and healthy diets with a greater emphasis on a diversity of foods, mostly plant-based, and more moderate consumption of meat and fish, as well as dramatic cuts in the waste involved in food supply and consumption.
  • The sustainable fisheries and oceans transition: protecting and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems, rebuilding fisheries and managing aquaculture and other uses of the oceans to ensure sustainability, and to enhance food security and livelihoods.
  • The cities and infrastructure transition: deploying “green infrastructure” and making space for nature within built landscapes to improve the health and quality of life for citizens and to reduce the environmental footprint of cities and infrastructure.
  • The sustainable freshwater transition: an integrated approach guaranteeing the water flows required by nature and people, improving water quality, protecting critical habitats, controlling invasive species and safeguarding connectivity to allow the recovery of freshwater systems from mountains to coasts.
  • The sustainable climate action transition: employing nature-based solutions, alongside a rapid phase-out of fossil fuel use, to reduce the scale and impacts of climate change, while providing positive benefits for biodiversity and other sustainable development goals. 
  • The biodiversity-inclusive One Health transition: managing ecosystems, including agricultural and urban ecosystems, as well as the use of wildlife, through an integrated approach, to promote healthy ecosystems and healthy people.

For more details about the GBO-5 report, visit the CBD website.

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, James Hutton Institute, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/natural-world-and-humanity-crossroads-un-global-biodiversity-outlook-report-published?page=1 on 23/09/20 01:06:41 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.