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Ten key messages for the Convention on Biological Diversity

Ahead of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15), the scientific community represented by the ISC calls for The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) to encompass ambitious and integrated action, grounded in science, in order to halt alarming biodiversity loss and restore biodiversity as part of human wellbeing.
  1. Biodiversity loss and the decline of ecosystem services continue to worsen at an alarming rate worldwide putting people’s lives, livelihoods and wellbeing at great risk. Biodiversity loss and the diminishing capacity of nature to support people compromises our ability to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. The world has failed to meet its global commitment to date in curbing the loss of biodiversity. None of the 20 Aichi targets for biodiversity set in 2010 have been reached and only six have been partially achieved. The Global Biodiversity Framework envisaged to emerge from COP15 will be crucial in guiding national and local action towards 2030.
  2. COP15 is not only a critical time for deciding on collective goals for biodiversity for the next 10 to 30 years, it is also an opportunity to make a critical shift in how we understand and value nature and act upon that knowledge. Science, through inter- and trans-disciplinary research, can provide actionable knowledge into relevant multistakeholder dialogues and ultimately science advice to governments on all dimensions of biodiversity loss and the consequent erosion of ecosystem services and the benefits derived from those. The GBF ought to recognize explicitly the role of science in designing, operationalizing and assessing progress in the realization of the targets under the GBF.
  3. The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) must embrace people as part of nature: people should not only be seen as threats and ‘takers’ but importantly as stewards with a responsibility to conserve and restore biodiversity as part of human well-being.
  4. Biodiversity loss including ecosystem deterioration is not only an environmental issue, it is also a development issue, an equity issue, a health issue, and more. Successful implementation of the GBF will require biodiversity to be mainstreamed across all policy areas, including economic policies.
  5. The GBF needs to put a stronger emphasis on addressing the direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss in an explicit and systematic manner. No additional conservation efforts can replace ambitious and concerted efforts to address the drivers of biodiversity loss; if such efforts are not in place, conservation actions will be largely wasted. This also needs to be reflected in the monitoring component of the GBF through which progress on the implementation of the GBF will be reviewed and measured.
  6. Ambitious and integrated actions that maximize co-benefits and minimize trade-offs are needed in the three core interrelated objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity, namely the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components and the equitable sharing of the benefits deriving from biodiversity. Meeting these objectives cannot be met without reducing, and ideally halting, the loss of biodiversity.
  7. Conservation remains essential and needs to be further expanded in four key directions: (i) nurturing diversity from genes to ecosystems, (ii) delivering equitable outcomes with and for local communities, (iii) shifting from fortress conservation to expanding conservation across the full spectrum of managed ecosystems including in cities, and agricultural landscapes, (iv) expanding from conservation of species and spaces to maintaining broader ecosystem functioning and resilience.
  8. The continuing decline in biodiversity, including ecosystem functioning, profoundly affects our capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change with acute impacts for poor and marginalized groups. In the face of high uncertainty related to accelerated and more intense global environmental change, including climate extremes, effectively functioning ecosystems play a vital role in buffering impacts of extreme events, preventing disasters, and building resilience.
  9. Bridging the gap between goal-setting and actions requires a clear definition of the links and pathways to action, ensuring thus that actions are coherent and commensurate with the desired outcomes. This is a necessary step to align governance arrangements, partnerships, funding, the different roles and responsibilities of all actors, and measures of progress on shared goals. This also implies explicit identification and targeting of activities across all sectors, especially those with negative impacts on biodiversity.
  10. Delivering change will require a mix of bottom up and top-down approaches that promote innovation and solutions that meet the diversity of needs and interests of local communities. A stronger emphasis on territorial governance is needed to deliver the GBF. That emphasis must bring together and align land-use planning, natural resource management, social and economic development of territories, and the planning and implementation of resilient infrastructure to meet biodiversity and wider sustainability goals. Better and more agile coordination with top-down governance is also needed to allow for adequate resources mobilization, institutional support, alignment of governance arrangements, learning and reporting.

Key references

CBD, “Global biodiversity outlook 5” (CBD, Montreal, 2020). 

Diaz, Sandra & Settele, Josef & Brondízio, Eduardo & Ngo, Hien T. & Agard, John & Arneth, Almut & Balvanera, Patricia & Brauman, Kate & Butchart, Stuart & Chan, Kai & Garibaldi, Lucas & Ichii, Kazuhito & Liu, Jianguo & Subramanian, Suneetha & Midgley, Guy & Miloslavich, Patricia & Molnár, Zsolt & Obura, David & Pfaff, Alexander & Zayas, Cynthia. (2019). Pervasive human-driven decline of life on Earth points to the need for transformative change. Science (New York, N.Y.). 366. 10.1126/science.aax3100.  

Diaz, Sandra & Zafra-Calvo, Noelia & Purvis, Andy & Verburg, Peter & Obura, David & Leadley, Paul & Chaplin-Kramer, Rebecca & De Meester, Luc & Dulloo, Ehsan & Martín-López, Berta & Shaw, M. & Visconti, Piero & Broadgate, Wendy & Bruford, Michael & Burgess, Neil & Cavender-Bares, Jeannine & Declerck, Fabrice & Fernández-Palacios, José & Garibaldi, Lucas & Zanne, Amy. (2020). Set ambitious goals for biodiversity and sustainability. Science. 370. 411-413. 10.1126/science.abe1530

Friedman, K., Bridgewater, P., Agostini, V., Agardy, T., Arico, S., Biermann, F., Brown, K., Cresswell, I. D., Ellis, E. C., Failler, P., Kim, R. E., Pratt, C., Rice, J., Rivera, V. S., & Teneva, L. (2022). The CBD Post-2020 biodiversity framework: People’s place within the rest of nature. People and Nature, 00, 1–10. 

IPBES (2019): Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. E. S. Brondizio, J. Settele, S. Díaz, and H. T. Ngo (editors). IPBES secretariat, Bonn, Germany. 1148 pages. 

Lucas A. Garibaldi -Facundo, J. Oddi, Fernando E. Miguez, Ignasi Bartomeus, Michael C. Orr, Esteban G. Jobbágy, Claire Kremen, Lisa A. Schulte, Alice C. Hughes, Camilo Bagnato, Guillermo Abramson, Peter Bridgewater, et al. (2020) Working landscapes need at least 20% native habitat. Conservation Letters e.12773. 

Pedro Jaureguiberry, Nicolas Titeux, Martin Wiemers, Diana E. Bowler, Luca Coscieme, Abigail S. Golden,Carlos A. Guerra, Ute Jacob, Yasuo Takahashi, Josef Settele, Sandra Díaz, Zsolt Molnár, Andy Purvis. (2022) The direct drivers of recent global anthropogenic biodiversity loss, Science Advances, 8, 45,. doi:10.1126/sciadv.abm9982 

Obura, David & Katerere, Yemi & Mayet, Mariam & Kaeolo, Dickson & Msweli, Simangele & Mather, Khalid & Harris, J. & Louis, Maxi & Kramer, Rachel & Teferi, Taye & Samoilys, Melita & Lewis, Linzi & Bennie, Andrew & Kumah, Frederick & Isaacs, Moenieba & Nantongo, Pauline. (2021). Integrate biodiversity targets from local to global levels. Science. 373. 746-748. 10.1126/science.abh2234

Reyers, B., Selig, E.R. (2020) Global targets that reveal the social–ecological interdependencies of sustainable development. Nat Ecol Evol 4, 1011–1019. 

Find out more about the ISC’s activities at COP15:

The ISC is active at the Science-Policy Forum for Biodiversity taking place on 11 and 12 December 2022, and other events taking place at the COP15.

Image by Md. Shafiqul Islam Shafiq via Biodiversity International on Flickr.

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