In 2010, leaders from 196 countries gathered in Japan and agreed on a list of goals designed to save the Earth.
The Aichi Biodiversity Targets laid out a 10-year plan to conserve the world’s biodiversity, promote sustainability, and protect ecosystems. The targets were ambitious, but crucial. One, for instance, aimed to prevent the extinction of threatened species and improve their status by 2020.
We’ve reached the deadline – and the world has collectively failed to fully achieve a single goal, according to the United Nations’ Global Biodiversity Outlook report, published on Tuesday.
“Humanity stands at a crossroads with regard to the legacy it leaves to future generations,” the report warned. “Biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate, and the pressures driving this decline are intensifying.”
If we continue our trajectory in the accelerating climate crisis, biodiversity will continue to deteriorate, driven by “currently unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, population growth and technological developments,” the report said.
Of the 20 goals, only six have been “partially achieved.” On average, the participating countries reported that more than a third of national targets are on track to be met; half of the national targets were seeing slower progress; 11% of targets show no significant progress, and 1% are actually moving in the wrong direction.
There is some scant progress to celebrate, but “the rate of biodiversity loss is unprecedented in human history and pressures are intensifying,” said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity, in a press release.
“Earth’s living systems as a whole are being compromised. And the more humanity exploits nature in unsustainable ways and undermines its contributions to people, the more we undermine our own wellbeing, security and prosperity.”
What the world achieved
First, the good news: the past decade has seen some limited progress.
The six targets partially met are: preventing invasive species, conserving protected areas, access to and sharing benefits from genetic resources, biodiversity strategies and action plans, sharing information, and mobilizing resources.
The global rate of deforestation has fallen by a third compared to the previous decade. A number of places have successfully eradicated invasive species. Some countries have introduced good fisheries management policies, which helped build back marine fish stocks that have been hard hit by overfishing and environmental degradation.