Monday, May 6, 2019

Bye, Bye, Biodiversity

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services ("IPBES") "is an independent intergovernmental body, established by member States in 2012 [whose purpose is] to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development."  The IPBES released several documents on May 6, 2019, in advance of its ~1500-page Global Assessment report, anticipated to be published later in 2019.

Here are the top-level "Key messages" reproduced from the IPBES' Summary for Policymakers:
A. Nature and its vital contributions to people, which together embody biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, are deteriorating worldwide (page 2)

B. Direct and indirect drivers of change have accelerated during the past 50 years (page 3) 
C. Goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors (page 5)
D. Nature can be conserved, restored and used sustainably while simultaneously meeting other global societal goals through urgent and concerted efforts fostering transformative change (page 7)
A striking, but unsurprising, statement in the Summary for Policymakers is that "Biodiversity – the diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems – is declining faster than at any time in human history" (page 2).  The IPBES estimates that, based on this "most comprehensive assessment of its kind", it has concluded that "Nature is declining at rates unprecedented in human history", with approximately "1,000,000 species threatened with extinction".

Although the IPBES suggests it is not too late for humanity to "make a difference", precise details about how to make a difference, and what exactly the difference might be, will not be available until the full report is released later this year.