The world has completely missed the boat on reaching the targets to stem the destruction of wildlife and life-sustaining ecosystems. And while some may applaud the small steps that have been made thus far, realistically they are not nearly enough to save us.
According to a new report from the United Nations (UN) on the state of nature, not a single milestone of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets agreed in Japan in 2010 have been fully achieved. This makes 2020 the second consecutive decade that governments have failed to make the desperate changes our planet urgently needs.
“Arguably one of the most concerning issues is that the leading target to halve the loss of natural habitats, including forests, has not been met. From mammals, birds, insects, and amphibians to flora and fauna, forests are home to many rare and fragile species,” said David Barritt of Network for Animals (NFA).
“Human behavior is the main driver behind forest decimation. Deforestation has only been cut by a third. Asia and Europe may be gaining forests but Africa and South America are losing them at a faster rate.”
Barritt continued to say that this news is so disappointing, especially at a time when a global pandemic sweeping across the world has reminded us how biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystems affects our own survival. We are now so behind our goals that it’s anyone’s guess whether we’ll be able to achieve the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature.
Concerning, the Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 – published before a key UN summit on the issue – found that subsidies dedicating to tackling deforestation ($500-billion) haven’t even been fully spent.
In addition, the report highlighted that pollution from plastics and pesticides have not been brought down to safe levels and that governments are still subsidizing businesses that damage ecosystems.
Coral reefs are still fading across the world due to climate change, pollution, and overfishing – with more than 60% under threat. The proportion of overfished marine stocks has increased to a third of the total, and many non-target species are threatened because of unsustainable levels of bycatch.
And while conservation efforts have safe-guarded a handful of species (48 to be exact), it has failed several others including the Western Black Rhino and the Christmas Island pipistrelle. The West African black rhinoceros was declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2011 after widespread poaching brought the species to its knees, while little to nothing was done to save the Christmas Island pipistrelle. This tiny bat became the first mammal to be confirmed extinct in Australia in 50 years.
The report warned that the only way to “bend the curve” (or face the consequences) is to consume less, produce sustainably, reduce other drivers, slow climate change, and conserve and restore.
“The harsh reality is that we cannot undo what we have already done to this earth that we all share. We cannot go back in time. The only thing we can do is change what we are doing right now. And by the looks of things, we’re doing a shoddy job,” said Barritt.
“NFA is not only calling on governments and corporations to step in but each and every one of us to reduce our own carbon footprint and become more eco-friendly. We all live on this planet. We are all responsible for saving it.”