in the Appalachians, thanks to successful reintroductions. The Cumberland Forest Project protects 253,000 acres of Appalachian forest.
Elk are making a comeback in the Appalachians, thanks to successful reintroductions. The Cumberland Forest Project protects 253,000 acres of Appalachian forest. © Steven David Johnson

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Urgent changes needed to safeguard nature, UN report warns

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) today released its landmark Global Biodiversity Outlook 5. The report is the “final report card on progress against the 20 global biodiversity targets agreed in 2010 with a 2020 deadline.”

Responding to the report, Linda Krueger, senior policy advisor for The Nature Conservancy, said:

“The 5th Global Biodiversity Outlook sadly underscores the world’s collective failure to take sufficient action to stop the deterioration of nature. With this and last week’s WWF/ZSL Living Planet report, we are seeing clear data depicting the decline of the world’s species and ecosystems. The GBO-5 says that the number of ‘Earths’ we effectively used was 1.7 from 2011 to 2016—meaning we are clearly living beyond our means. This report is additional confirmation that half-hearted measures and hopeful thinking are not enough. We need transformative, urgent changes to our policies, financial flows and behavior if we want to protect the natural world that all of us depend on.

“We know what these fixes are. The report highlights some of them: protect and manage the last remaining intact ecosystems for nature and carbon, redesign and improve our agricultural systems, protect and restore marine ecosystems, and plan for future development that doesn’t further fragment and degrade nature. The Nature Conservancy works across all these areas with partners around the world, but until governments, businesses and people place nature at the heart of all decision-making, we can’t meet this challenge.

“There’s a funding gap holding back these efforts, and it’s made worse by the fact that half a trillion dollars are spent on subsidies that potentially cause environmental harm. A report due to be released on Thursday by TNC, alongside the Paulson Institute and the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability, will lay out a roadmap with clear actions policymakers can take to fill that gap.

“This is not a hopeless cause, and the GBO does highlight the areas where tangible, meaningful progress has been made. Dozens of species of birds and mammals have been saved from extinction since the Convention began. Areas under protective management have substantially increased. Women’s right to own and trade land on equal terms as men are now enshrined in 164 countries. Deforestation rates are declining. Let’s recognize that there are some bright spots and now is the time to seize that potential. As governments all around the world pump trillions of dollars into economic packages let’s put nature and the climate at forefront of recovery.”   

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.