Ambitious holistic biodiversity targets

In this Science paper published on 23 October 2020, CORDIO’s David Obura joins other researchers saying that a ‘safety net’ of multiple, ambitious biodiversity goals is necessary for a nature-positive and people-centered Global Biodiversity Framework to 2050.



Through the Earth Commission, a workshop in February/March 2020 produced a synthesis report for the scientific and technical body (SBSTTA) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (here). To make the findings more accessible to policy makers and the broader scientific community, they synthesized the results in this new article in Science magazine.

The scientific advice comes at a critical time: The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) recently announced, in the Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 that none of its 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets for 2020 has been reached (six had been partially reached). Policymakers, scientists and country negotiators are now preparing for the next generation of biodiversity goals for 2030 and 2050, to be enshrined in the 15th Convention of the Parties to be held in China in 2021 (delayed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

The paper outlines the scientific basis for redesigning this new set of biodiversity goals. To reach the road to recovery, ecosystems, species, genetic diversity and nature’s contributions to people all need distinct goals, and these goals need to be woven together into a safety net and set at a high level of ambition.




Key elements for each aspect of nature are outlined in the paper as follows:

EcosystemsSpeciesGenetic diversityNature’s contributions to people (NCP)

Include clear ambition to halt the (net) loss of “natural” ecosystem area and integrity.

Expand ecosystem restoration to support no net loss by 2030 relative to 2020, and netgain of 20% of area and integrity of “natural” ecosystems and 20% gain of integrity of“managed” ecosystems by 2050.

Require strict conditions and limits to compensation, including “like-for-like” (substitutionby the same or similar ecosystem as that lost) and no loss of “critical” ecosystems thatare rare, vulnerable, or essential for planetary function, or which cannot be restored.

Recognize that improving the integrity of “managed” ecosystems is key to the continuedprovision of many of nature’s contributions to people.

Recognize that outcomes of conservation and restoration activities strongly depend onlocation and that spatial targeting is essential to achieve synergies with other goals.

Have clear ambitions to reduce extinction risk and extinction rate across both threatened and nonthreatened species by 2050, with a focus on threatened species in the short term.

Focus on retaining and restoring local population abundances and the natural geographi- cal extent of ecological and functional groups that have been depleted, and on conserving evolutionary lineages across the entire “tree of life.”

Include maintenance of genetic diversity—the raw material for evolutionary processes that support survival and adaptation; population size is not an adequate proxy for this.

Be set at the highest ambition level (e.g., above 90% of genetic diversity maintained).

Focus on populations and their adaptive capacity and include wild species and domesti-cated species and their wild relatives.

Be addressed directly in a goal that recognizes NCP (e.g., food, medicines, clean water, and climate regulation) and avoids conflation with a good quality of life (e.g., food security or access to safe drinking water), which results from other factors as well as from NCP.

Encompass spatial and other distributional aspects, such as provision from both “natural” and “managed” ecosystems, and inter- and intragenerational equity to ensure benefits to all.