The Aichi Targets were set in 2010 and were meant to safeguard global diversity, but experts warn they have made little difference to extinction rates
September 15, 2020 2:15 pm
Updated September 15, 2020 2:16 pm
The world has failed to meet any of the 20 biodiversity targets set in 2010 to safeguard global wildlife, the UN has revealed.
Six of the goals were “partially achieved” according to the UN, but in most areas the world has fallen short of its commitments hailed a decade ago as a sign “countries are ready to join forces to save life on Earth”.
The damning assessment has prompted biodiversity experts to warn that “humanity stands at a crossroads”, with the choice to either act fast to stem the decline of the natural world or face catastrophic, permanent consequences.
The i politics newsletter cut through the noise
“The decisions and level of action we take now will have profound consequences – for good or ill – for all species, including ours,” said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, head of the UN’s biodiversity convention.
Widespread failure and limited success
A final progress report on the 20 Aichi Targets, which were signed by ministers from almost 200 nations a decade ago, finds that countries have failed to fund nature restoration on anything like the scale needed to make widespread change. Degraded land has not been restored, $500bn of harmful subsidies continue to promote overfishing, fossil fuels and intensive farming, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, and many threatened species still lie on the brink of extinction.
Limited progress has been made on rescuing individual species, improving the public’s understanding of biodiversity, and curbing deforestation. Of the 60 sub-targets, seven have been achieved and 38 show progress, the UN concluded. But 13 show no progress, or indicate things are getting worse.
Earlier this week the RSPB alleged the UK had been “overly optimistic” when reporting its progress against the targets to the UN.
‘The warning lights are flashing’
The assessment comes just days after scientists warned the world is facing a “catastrophic” collapse in biodiversity, with the average rate of population decline in the natural world hitting 68 per cent.
Confirmation that international efforts have failed to stem the loss has prompted further stark warnings from scientists.
“The warning lights are flashing,” said Professor Andy Purvis of the Natural History Museum. “We have to recognise that we’re in a planetary emergency. If we carry on with business as usual, we will all be out of business: it’s not just that species will die out, but also that ecosystems will be too damaged to meet society’s needs.”
Nations will gather in China next year to set the next round of global goals on biodiversity. There are growing calls for the next tranche of goals to be accompanied by tough, legally binding national plans to drive systemic change.
“It’s shocking that none of the biodiversity targets set at Aichi a decade ago have been met,” said Will McCallum, head of oceans at Greenpeace UK. “These targets have not been met because governments failed to develop effective and legally binding national action plans to help them meet these targets.”