February 11, 2020

UN proposes 2030 strategy to protect global biodiversity

The proposed plan will form the focus of meetings in China where global leaders are set to agree on rules to protect our global biodiversity.

The draft plan includes a ten-year strategy to put a stop to the decline and extinction of species, enabling our ecosystems to recover by 2050. 

Governments are expected to implement a new list of biodiversity targets, replacing the previous goals set back in 2010 in Aichi, Japan, of which most have reportedly not been achieved. Within the original goals set in Aichi, governments planned to prevent the extinction of existing threatened species by 2020 and to support conservation plans. A recent report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (Ipbes) warned that species extinction was, in fact, accelerating with global ecosystems reducing quicker than ever witnessed. The report suggested that approximately one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction, with climate change being identified as one of the main drivers.

The upcoming meeting in China will be a defining moment to implement a global plan to protect biodiversity. Governments are under pressure to ensure the summit transpires into action experienced after the 2015 climate talks in Paris. One proposed goal within the plan is to ensure protected and conservation measures cover at least 30% of land and sea areas, with more than 10% designated as strictly protected by 2030. This proposition has received some criticism from conservation and ecological experts believing that these figures simply aren’t enough. Alex Rogers, conservation and biological professor at Oxford University believes the strategy needs to focus on two major elements – the climate change challenges and the species crisis.

The draft plan includes a number of proposed goals but it is still quite unclear how these targets are to be implemented, nor does it include financial targets to meet these goals. The strategy highlights that governments and societies need to define their priorities and provide financial and other resources to support our ecosystems.

Some industry critics have highlighted that the mechanisms required to ensure we meet these targets are not present as of yet. Some proposed mechanisms include removing subsidies that have a high impact on biodiversity, incorporating biodiversity values into national planning and supporting innovation and indigenous studies.

Without sufficient mechanisms to reach the targets, the next biodiversity framework could experience a repeat of the Aichi plan, resulting in low levels of commitment on the steps to meet these targets.