Pollen covered honeybee
Pollen covered bee flying to a red dahlia flower in Del Mar, California. © © Scott Sumiko


UN Report Says More Species Threatened With Extinction Than Any Other Time in Human History

Natural world on life support; enhanced international cooperation to promote transformative change is critical

Today, the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES, released its first report detailing past biodiversity losses and prospects for people and nature. Governments and scientists agree we are exploiting nature faster than it can renew itself. Biodiversity loss at this scale poses challenges just as severe as rising temperatures. 

Seventy-five percent of the land surface is significantly altered, 66 percent of the ocean area is experiencing increasing cumulative impacts, and over 85 percent of wetlands (area) has been lost.  The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. The report adds that one million species could be extinct within decades and makes clear that most of the UN’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets for 2020 agreed to by the world’s governments will be missed.

Mark Tercek, CEO for The Nature Conservancy issued the following response:

The growing demand for and exploitation of nature’s services is severely straining nature’s ability to sustain health, productivity and social harmony. The IPBES report is an important wake-up call to find a more sustainable path. The report clearly shows how rapid deterioration of nature threatens our food, water and health. It’s also making climate change worse. Achieving economic and development goals, as well as climate goals, will require tackling this accelerating loss of biodiversity.

“In the face of these alarming trends, business-as-usual is not an option. Charting a sustainable path will require more funding and collaboration than ever before. TNC scientists have run the numbers: a more sustainable world is still possible if society makes big changes within the next decade—but time is running short. People and nature can both thrive, but only if we take action right now.”

“By combining science and proven strategies with innovative new financial and policy mechanisms, we can find solutions that work with, and not against, nature. With the right tools, we believe key sectors—such as infrastructure, energy and agriculture—will also be part of the shift towards a more sustainable path.”

TNC scientists have run the numbers: a more sustainable world is still possible if society makes big changes within the next decade.

“Alongside the urgent need to decarbonize our energy systems, natural climate solutions—including changing agricultural systems, protecting coastal ecosystems and restoring forests—could be the biggest single lever we have to act on both biodiversity and climate. These solutions are available today, and they can be deployed on a global scale. TNC is working with governments, corporations, NGOs and financial institutions to help bring these tangible solutions to the forefront of planning and investment decisions before it is too late.”

“We call on governments to adopt a new global framework for the conservation and restoration of nature in 2020 that contains specific, actionable targets; and action by all sectors of society – countries, companies and communities – to support the nature we need for the future we want.” 



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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 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, 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.