The Most Comprehensive Assessment Of The World's Biodiversity Is Out, And It's Seriously Bad News

In every part of the world, nature and biodiversity are under serious pressure, but there is still hope. Rich Carey/Shutterstock

Josh Davis 23 Mar 2018, 13:19

In every corner of the world, from the lofty peaks of the Andes to the humid peat bogs of the Bornean rainforest, the biodiversity on our planet is being severely degraded to such an extent that if we don’t act now, our very future is in jeopardy.  

This is the stark warning about how we are causing a dramatic and worrying decline in nature, and in turn its capacity to support us, from a new series of major reports released by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which is currently meeting in Medellin, Colombia.

Compiled by close to 600 scientists and taking over three years to complete, it provides the most comprehensive assessment of the biodiversity on our planet carried out for the last 13 years. And needless to say, the outlook is not great.

Farming has pushed nature right to the very edges, as it becomes more and more unsustainable. Alf Ribeiro/Shutterstock

“Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people sound, to many people, academic and far removed from our daily lives,” said Sir Robert Watson, the chair of the IPBES. “Nothing could be further from the truth – they are the bedrock of our food, clean water and energy. They are at the heart not only of our survival, but of our cultures, identities, and enjoyment of life.

“The best available evidence, gathered by the world’s leading experts, points us now to a single conclusion: we must act to halt and reverse the unsustainable use of nature – or risk not only the future we want, but even the lives we currently lead.”

The report is made up of four parts – covering Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe and Central Asia – aiming to give the most thorough analysis of the state of nature on every continent, apart from Antarctica. A fifth report will be released later in the week that focuses solely on the global state of soil, looking into how destructive farming practices, pollution, mining, and deforestation are draining the soil of nutrients and limiting our ability to feed ourselves.

This isn’t just an esoteric issue. The destruction of biodiversity threatens our global development goals, as many of the world’s poorest people and nations rely so heavily on a healthy, sustainable environment. The time for action was yesterday and the day before yesterday, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do. We know enough to manage biodiversity and the climate better than we are now, and need to promote sustainable agriculture, forestry, and the production and consumption of goods.

If nothing changes, then all fisheries in Asia will be overexploited by the mid-century. aldarinho/Shutterstock
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