U.N report: grim picture on global biodiversity and protection efforts

World fails to meet 20 targets to protect nature by 2020

This year's study is considered to be particularly significant, because it serves as a "final report card" for the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, a series of 20 objectives set out in 2010, at the beginning of the UN's Decade on Biodiversity, most of which were supposed to be fulfilled by the end of this year.

But the world failed to achieve even a single target. As the GBO report comes at a time when the Covid-19 challenges people to rethink their relationship with nature, United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres said, "As we emerge from the immediate impacts of the pandemic, we have an unprecedented opportunity to "build back better", incorporating the transitions outlined in this Outlook and embodied in an ambitious plan to put the world on track to achieve the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity".

The authors of the U.N Outlook say there has been some progress, and that the report is not created to promote despair but rather to highiight urgency to tackle climate change which affects biodiversity, preservation and restoration of habitat, and more sustainable practices in food production and fishing.

The 20 targets include communication around the value of biodiversity, government and corporate steps to improve and maintain biodiversity, sustainable fishing, sustainable agriculture, and the conservation of threatened wildlife species. Six of the targets have been partially met whilst we've completely failed the other 14.

However, progress has been made in other areas.

"This flagship report underlines that humanity stands at a crossroads with regard to the legacy we wish to leave to future generations", she said.

Equally worrying is the uneven financing for biodiversity projects.

Such investments are rising as governments release trillions of dollars in coronavirus stimulus packages to revive the economy without putting restrictions on emissions.

"We know what needs to be done, what works and how we can achieve good results", Inger Andersen, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, said in a statement. At present, environmentalists and experts are pinning their hopes on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which will be adopted at CBD's next meeting in Kunming, China, in May 2021. The talks were earlier planned to be held in October 2020 but were postponed due to COVID-19.

Numerous actions needed have already been identified and agreed upon under global treaties like the Paris Climate Change Agreement (which the United States is now withdrawing from).

As per the report, the recent rate of deforestation is lower than that of the previous decade, but only by about one-third, but deforestation may be accelerating again in some areas. If we keep following the same path amid the climate crisis, biodiversity will continue to deteriorate, driven by "unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, population growth and technological developments", the report said.

"We can not afford to ignore the findings of this major report", said Marco Lambertini, Director General for WWF International, in a statement.

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.

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