by Ram Sharan Devkota, Student of Global Change Ecology
From 29 April 2019 to 4 May 2019, 132 countries, academia, organizations, NGOs, stakeholders, scientists from all around the world gathered together in Paris for the seventh session of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). I had the opportunity to participate in this conference as an observer from our study programme “Global Change Ecology” at the University of Bayreuth.
The “Global Assessment Report” is the first of this kind after “Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005” and the first ever at the level of inter-governmental panel.
The report was discussed at length, debated and accepted in the seventh session of IPBES in Paris, and released recently after addressing the concerns raised during the meeting. In the context of slow progress on some of the global targets like Aichi, justified curiosity about SDGs and the Paris Agreement, the report is also expected to provide remarkable insights.
From the beginning, it attracted a great deal of attention and is still in discussion among scientists, researchers, academia, institutions, stakeholders, conservationists, environment activists, and media from all around the world. The report is expected to have an impact on future national and international policy formation and is expected to serve as a guideline for future action plan. Therefore, a series of questions would be raised on the “Global Assessment Report” and its relevance.
Well, the “Global Assessment Report” is prepared by a group of 145 expert authors from 50 different countries with additional contributions from 310 experts and evaluates changes over the past 50 years based on 15,000 scientific and governmental reports from all around the world.
The key message of the report: “Nature” is in trouble and human activities are a major responsible driver of this.
The report provides a bunch of evidence that supports the high probability of a huge rate of species extinction and bio-diversity loss. It further emphasizes that the recent changes in nature are the highest in history.
Every human being depends on nature and natural products for their livelihood, however, the degree of dependencies might differ from geography, country and society. The degree of dependencies, availability and capacity to choose alternatives determines the degree of vulnerability. But nature is not infinite, and we cannot get an endless supply of natural resources, which means unwise overuse of natural resources would make everyone vulnerable regardless of economic status, geography and society. Moreover, biodiversity has a great importance in food production, ecosystem services and functioning. Therefore, a loss in biodiversity is going to affect the entire world in many ways e.g. reduction in food production, absence of medicine, increase in natural disasters etc.
The unprecedented changes in nature have already put more than half of the world’s population primarily dependent on nature for their livelihood at risk due to the large biodiversity loss, climate change and poor economic status.
In such a context, multiple efforts and actions are crucial for protecting nature to assure continuity of natural resources that can fulfil our current and future needs. However, overexploiting natural resources including bio diversity loss, illegal trade, unsustainable economic development and market policy, huge economic gaps are always major challenges to obtaining nature conservation targets and reasons for not obtaining them within the timeframe.
The recently released “Global Assessment Report” provides clear insights with scientific evidence based on the current level of knowledge on the status of nature at a global scale and suggests an urgent need for action in order to conserve and protect nature. These are crucial if we wish to avoid future devastation because of human activities. I think this is possible only from a global consensus obtained from beyond national and personal interests that basically focuses directly or indirectly on current unsustainable business models as well as usual trade expansion.