CORDIO’s Dr. David Obura was a Coordinating Lead Author in the IPBES Global Assessment report launched in Paris on 6 May 2019. The assessment is the first of its kind to assess, from local to global levels, peoples’ dependence on nature, the degree of impact we are having, and to lay out scenarios to reverse the ongoing declines.
Coral reefs are a sign …
of what may happen to other major ecosystems critical for human societies. While they support over 500 million people in many different ways, including food, coastal protection, recreation and many cultural and aesthetic benefits, only the most optimistic climate change scenarios will save them from loss.
The report builds on the IPCC finding that at 1.5C we will lose 70-90% of reefs, and at 2C only 1% may remain. This highlights the need for transformative change within the next few years – and this change needs to extend across production/consumption practices, economic sectors and all countries, in order to be sufficient.
Across the ocean, 66% of it is experiencing increasing cumulative impacts, and 33-50% (depending on the study) is overfished. Three-quarters of the land surface is significantly altered and over 85% of wetlands globally have been lost. While severe, we should understand that nature does evolve, and a positive message to stimulate transformative change to direct the future in positive directions is essential.
The key findings of the report include:
Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely, warns a landmark new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the summary of which was approved at the 7th session of the IPBES Plenary, meeting last week (29 April – 4 May) in Paris.
“The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,” said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”
“The Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” he said. “Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”
Media including CORDIO’s contribution:
Guardian newspaper, by Jonathan Watts – Human society under urgent threat from loss of Earth’s natural life
National Geographic, by Stephen Leahy – One million species at risk of extinction, UN report warns
National Public Radio (USA) – Background briefing, by Ian Masters.
National Public Radio (USA) – Morning Edition, with Rachel Martin –
Other media on the IPBES findings:
Reuters/Haaretz – France’s Macron Seeks New Measures to Protect Biodiversity
CNN, by John D. Sutter – Is nature over? Maybe
BBC – What does a biodiversity emergency mean for humans?