Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, according to the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in early May 2019. The full six-chapter Report (including all data) is expected exceed 1,500 pages and will be published later this year.
Compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors, the report assesses changes over the past five decades, providing a comprehensive picture of the relationship between economic development pathways and their impacts on nature. It also offers a range of possible scenarios for the coming decades.
Based on the systematic review of about 15,000 scientific and government sources, the report also draws on indigenous and local knowledge, particularly addressing issues relevant to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.
The report finds that around one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.
The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20 per cent, mostly since 1900. More than 40 per cent of amphibian species, almost 33 per cent of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10 per cent under threat. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9 per cent 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.
The authors have ranked the five direct drivers of change in nature with the largest relative global impacts so far. These 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 presents a wide range of illustrative actions for sustainability and pathways for achieving them across and between sectors such as agriculture, forestry, marine systems, freshwater systems, urban areas, energy, finance and many others. It highlights the importance of, among others, adopting integrated management and cross-sectoral approaches that take into account the trade-offs of food and energy production, infrastructure, freshwater and coastal management, and biodiversity conservation.
Also identified as a key element of more sustainable future policies is the evolution of global financial and economic systems to build a global sustainable economy, steering away from the current limited paradigm of economic growth.
Read more and download the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services