A United Nations (UN) agency has got a plan up its sleeve to avert the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity has released a draft proposal that lays out a framework to deal with the ongoing deterioration of our planet's biodiversity.
Building on some of the latest scientific research on the issue, the draft proposal aims to provide governments and policymakers with a framework of 20 targets for the next decade, ranging from the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to increasing the span of protected areas.
One of the leading proposals is to give official protected status to almost a third of the world’s oceans and land areas by 2030 in the hopes of guarding species from habitat destruction at the hands of agriculture, logging, infrastructure, etc. Currently, around 15 percent of the world's land area and 3 percent of the global ocean are protected.
The draft also calls for the reduction of pesticide, nutrient, and plastic pollution by at least 50 percent, as well as more work towards controlling and eradicating invasive species. Another major target is to introduce 30 percent more “nature-based solutions” towards the mitigation effort needed to achieve the emissions-cutting goals of the Paris Agreement.
A major report by the WWF in 2016 found that populations of vertebrate animals, such as mammals, birds, and fish, declined nearly 60 percent between 1970 and 2012. Another report from the UN last year found that between 500,000 and 1 million species currently face extinction due to humans, which they described as a rate “tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, on average, over the last 10 million years."
The sixth mass extinction event is a term used by some scientists to describe the current collapse of flora and fauna across the world. There have been five previous mass extinctions over the past 500 million years as a result of meteor impacts, volcanic eruptions, and ice ages. This one, however, is the result of human activity, and it’s causing tens of thousands of species to be threatened with extinction on a scale comparable (if not worse) to these events.
The UN’s new plan to address all of this will be finalized and adopted in October 2020 at a biodiversity summit in Kunming, China, according to The Guardian, who first broke the story.
In 2010, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity set the Aichi Biodiversity Targets as an attempt to stop the flood of biodiversity loss between 2011 and 2020. While the agreement succeeded in some of its aims, such as expanding protected areas, this period continued to see catastrophic amounts of biodiversity loss.
Now, with the crisis knocking at our front door, the planet won't have another decade to delay action.