By Kingsley Adegboye with Agency Report
Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history, and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world. This is why the world needs transformative change if life on earth is to be safeguarded and people are to continue to receive the services and benefits that nature provides, according to a new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services IPBES, an international team of leading researchers on environment.
Coming at a critical period for environmental action, the Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is the first report of its kind in 14 years and provides indispensable scientific evidence on the health of the natural environment.
IPBES’ Chairman, Sir Robert Watson, said in the report that “The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture. The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.
“The report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global. Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably, this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganisation across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.
“The member states of IPBES plenary have now acknowledged that, by its very nature, transforma-tive change can expect opposition from those with interests vested in the status quo, but also that such opposition can be overcome for the broader public good”.
IPBES Global Assessment Report
The IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is the most comprehensive ever completed. It is the first inter-governmental report of its kind and builds on the landmark Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005, introducing innovative ways of evaluating evidence.
Compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors, the report assesses changes over the past five decades, providing a comprehensive picture of the relationship between economic development pathways and their impacts on nature. It also offers a range of possible scenarios for the coming decades.
“Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people are our common heritage and humanity’s most important life-supporting ‘safety net’. But our safety net is stretched almost to breaking point,” said Prof. Sandra Díaz (Argentina), who co-chaired the Assessment with Prof. Josef Settele (Germany) and Prof. Eduardo S. Brondízio (Brazil and USA).
“The diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems, as well as many fundamental contributions we derive from nature, are declining fast, although we still have the means to ensure a sustainable future for people and the planet.”
“To better understand and, more importantly, to address the main causes of damage to biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people, we need to understand the history and global interconnection of complex demographic and economic indirect drivers of change, as well as the social values that underpin them,” said Prof. Brondízio.
Reacting to the report, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, NCF, is calling on the Federal Government and all Nigerians to rise up and tackle environmental challenges headlong to avoid the nation running into catastrophe.
According to the Director-General, Nigerian Conservation Foundation, Muhtari Aminu-Kano, in IPBES’s recently released statement entitled: Nature’s Dangerous Decline Unprecedented
Species Extinction Rates Accelerating, revealed that nature is declining globally at an unprecedented rate in human history and the scale of species extinctions has grave impacts on people around the world.
He said: “IPBES is an independent inter-governmental body comprising more than 130 member- governments. Established by Governments in 2012, it provides policymakers with objective scientific assessments about the state of knowledge regarding the planet’s biodiversity, ecosystems and their contributions to people. It’s often described as the IPCC for biodiversity.
One million animal and plant species
“Around one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction. The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20 per cent, mostly since 1900. More than 40 per cent of amphibian species, almost 33 per cent of reef forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened.
“An estimated 10 per cent of insect species are being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction. More than 9 per cent of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.
“Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing. The essential, interconnected web of life on earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed.
“Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66 per cent of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions. On average, these trends have been less severe or avoided in areas held or managed by indigenous peoples and local communities.
“More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75 per cent of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production.
The value of agriculture
The value of agricultural crop production has increased by about 300 per cent since 1970, raw timber harvest has risen by 45 per cent and approximately 60 billion tons of renewable and nonrenewable resources are now extracted globally every year – having nearly doubled since 1980.
“Land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23 per cent of the global land surface, up to US$577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss and 100-300 million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection.
“In 2015, 33 per cent of marine fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels; 60 per cent were maximally sustainably fished, with just 7 per cent harvested at levels lower than what can be sustainably fished. Urban areas have more than doubled since 1992.
“Plastic pollution has increased ten-fold since 1980, 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes from industrial facilities are dumped annually into the world’s waters, and fertilizers entering coastal ecosystems have produced more than 400 ocean ‘dead zones.
“Negative trends in nature will continue to 2050 and beyond in all of the policy scenarios explored in the report, except those that include transformative change – due to the projected impacts of increasing land-use change, exploitation of organisms and climate change, although with significant differences between regions”, Aminu-Kano stated.