Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

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The Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is a report by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, on the global state of biodiversity. A summary for policymakers was released on 6 May 2019. [1] The report states that, due to human impact on the environment in the past half-century, the Earth's biodiversity has suffered a catastrophic decline unprecedented in human history. [2] An estimated 82 percent of wild mammal biomass has been lost, while 40 percent of amphibians, almost a third of reef-building corals, more than a third of marine mammals, and 10 percent of all insects are threatened with extinction.



In 2010 a resolution by the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly urged the United Nations Environment Programme to convene a plenary meeting to establish an Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). [3] [4] In 2013 an initial conceptual framework was adopted for the prospective IPBES plenary. [4]

From 29 April to 4 May 2019, representatives of the 132 IPBES members met in Paris, France, to receive the IPBES's full report and adopted a summary of it for policymakers. On 6 May 2019, the 40-page summary was released. [5] [6]

Objective and scope

The Global Assessment Report is a global-level assessment of changes in Earth's biodiversity that have occurred over the past 50 years. It draws an extensive picture of economic development and its effects on nature in that period. The Report is a collaborative effort by 145 authors from 50 countries, [7] produced over a three-year period and supported by some 310 authors' contributions. [8] The Global Assessment Report comprises some 1,700 pages [7] evaluating over 15,000 scientific publications and reports from indigenous peoples. [9] The Report's authors are predominantly natural scientists, one-third are social scientists, and about ten percent are interdisciplinary workers. [7]

The IPBES Report—an analogue to reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), including the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report—is intended to form a scientific basis for informed political and societal decisions on biodiversity policies. [10] It is the first United Nations report on the global state of biodiversity since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment published in 2005. [11]


"Finding out that 1 million species face extinction without radical corrective changes in human behavior is akin to finding out you have a fatal disease. One day you have a thousand problems; the next, you have just one. Nothing in today’s headlines compares to the catastrophic potential posed by climate change and the decimating effects of careless consumerism around the globe."

Kathleen Parker for The Washington Post , May 7, 2019 [12]

The Report examined the rate of decline in biodiversity and found that the adverse effects of human activities on the world's species is "unprecedented in human history": [13] one million species, including 40 percent of amphibians, almost a third of reef-building corals, more than a third of marine mammals, and 10 percent of all insects are threatened with extinction. [14] The drivers of this extinction are, in descending order: (1) changes in land and sea use; (2) direct exploitation of organisms; (3) climate change; (4) pollution and (5) invasive alien species. [5]

Since the 16th century, at least 680 species of vertebrates have become extinct. [15] By 2016, among mammals, more than nine percent of livestock breeds were extinct, and another 1,000 breeds are threatened with extinction. [16] The authors have coined the expression "dead species walking" for the more than 500,000 species that are not yet extinct but, due to changes in, or reduction of, their habitats, have no chance of long-term survival. [17]

A 2002 satellite image showing deforestation due to palm oil farming in Malaysian Borneo. Malayasia iko 2002169.jpg
A 2002 satellite image showing deforestation due to palm oil farming in Malaysian Borneo.

According to the Report, the threat to species diversity is human-caused. [18] The main cause is the human land requirement, which deprives other species of their habitats. [9] In the past 50 years, the world's human population has doubled, [19] [11] per capita gross domestic product has quadrupled, [20] and biodiversity has suffered a catastrophic decline. [21] Most notably, tropical forests have been cleared for cattle pastures in South America and for oil-palm plantations in Southeast Asia. [22] Some 32 million hectares (79 million acres) of tropical rainforest were destroyed between 2010 and 2015, compared to the 100 million hectares (250 million acres) lost in the latter two decades of the 20th century. Already 85 percent of the world's wetlands have been lost. [23]

The total biomass of wild mammals has decreased by 82 percent, while humans and their farm animals now make up 96 percent of all mammalian biomass on Earth. [9] Additionally, since 1992 the land requirement for human settlements has more than doubled worldwide; [24] and humanity has rendered 23 percent of Earth's land ecologically degraded and no longer usable. [23] Industrial farming is considered to be one of the major contributors to this decline. [25] [26] Around 25% of the planet's ice-free land is being used to rear cattle for human consumption. [9]

In the oceans, overfishing is a major cause of species loss. [15] [26] Some 300–400 million metric tons (660–880 billion lb) of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge, and other wastes per year enter the water cycle from industrial facilities. [9] [27] Since the 19th century, the world's coral reefs have been reduced by half. [23]

Socioeconomic consequences include threatened loss of food production, due to loss of pollinator insects, valued at between $235 and $577 billion a year; and anticipated loss of the livelihoods of up to 300 million people, due to loss of coastal areas such as mangrove forests. [23]


The Report warned that society should not fixate on economic growth, [28] [29] and that countries should "base their economies on an understanding that nature is the foundation for development." [7] [30] The Report called on countries to begin focusing on "restoring habitats, growing food on less land, stopping illegal logging and fishing, protecting marine areas, and stopping the flow of heavy metals and wastewater into the environment." [30] It also suggests that countries reduce their subsidies to industries that are harmful to nature, and increase subsidies and funding to environmentally beneficial programs. [31] Restoring the sovereignty of indigenous populations around the world is also suggested, as their lands have seen lower rates of biodiversity loss. [32] Additionally, it highlighted needed shifts in individual behaviours, such as reducing meat consumption. [9] [22]

See also

Related Research Articles

Extinction event Widespread and rapid decrease in the biodiversity on Earth

An extinction event is a widespread and rapid decrease in the biodiversity on Earth. Such an event is identified by a sharp change in the diversity and abundance of multicellular organisms. It occurs when the rate of extinction increases with respect to the rate of speciation. Estimates of the number of major mass extinctions in the last 540 million years range from as few as five to more than twenty. These differences stem from the threshold chosen for describing an extinction event as "major", and the data chosen to measure past diversity.

Holocene extinction Ongoing extinction event caused by human activity

The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the sixth mass extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is an ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch as a result of human activity. The included extinctions span numerous families of plants and animals, including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and arthropods. With widespread degradation of highly biodiverse habitats such as coral reefs and rainforests, as well as other areas, the vast majority of these extinctions are thought to be undocumented, as the species are undiscovered at the time of their extinction, or no one has yet discovered their extinction. The current rate of extinction of species is estimated at 100 to 1,000 times higher than natural background rates.

Biodiversity Variety and variability of life forms

Biodiversity is the variety and variability of life on Earth. Biodiversity is typically a measure of variation at the genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near the equator, which is the result of the warm climate and high primary productivity. Biodiversity is not distributed evenly on Earth, and is richest in the tropics. These tropical forest ecosystems cover less than 10 percent of earth's surface, and contain about 90 percent of the world's species. Marine biodiversity is usually highest along coasts in the Western Pacific, where sea surface temperature is highest, and in the mid-latitudinal band in all oceans. There are latitudinal gradients in species diversity. Biodiversity generally tends to cluster in hotspots, and has been increasing through time, but will be likely to slow in the future.

Extinction Termination of a taxon by the death of the last member

Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds (taxon), usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point. Because a species' potential range may be very large, determining this moment is difficult, and is usually done retrospectively. This difficulty leads to phenomena such as Lazarus taxa, where a species presumed extinct abruptly "reappears" after a period of apparent absence.

Conservation biology The study of threats to biological diversity

Conservation biology is the management of nature and of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction and the erosion of biotic interactions. It is an interdisciplinary subject drawing on natural and social sciences, and the practice of natural resource management.

Environmental degradation deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems; habitat destruction; the extinction of wildlife; and pollution

Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems; habitat destruction; the extinction of wildlife; and pollution. It is defined as any change or disturbance to the environment perceived to be deleterious or undesirable. As indicated by the I=PAT equation, environmental impact (I) or degradation is caused by the combination of an already very large and increasing human population (P), continually increasing economic growth or per capita affluence (A), and the application of resource-depleting and polluting technology (T).

Human impact on the environment Impact of human life on Earth

Human impact on the environment or anthropogenic impact on the environment includes changes to biophysical environments and ecosystems, biodiversity, and natural resources caused directly or indirectly by humans, including global warming, environmental degradation, mass extinction and biodiversity loss, ecological crisis, and ecological collapse. Modifying the environment to fit the needs of society is causing severe effects, which become worse as the problem of human overpopulation continues. Some human activities that cause damage to the environment on a global scale include population growth, overconsumption, overexploitation, pollution, and deforestation, to name but a few. Some of the problems, including global warming and biodiversity loss pose an existential risk to the human race, and human overpopulation causes those problems.

Wildlife conservation practice of protecting wild plant and animal species and their habitats

Wildlife conservation is the practice of protecting wild species and their habitats in order to prevent species from going extinct. Major threats to wildlife include habitat destruction/degradation/fragmentation, overexploitation, poaching, pollution and climate change. The IUCN estimates that 27,000 species of the ones assessed are at risk for extinction. Expanding to all existing species, a 2019 UN report on biodiversity put this estimate even higher at a million species. It's also being acknowledged that an increasing number of ecosystems on Earth containing endangered species are disappearing. To address these issues, there have been both national and international governmental efforts to preserve Earth's wildlife. Prominent conservation agreements include the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). There are also numerous nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) dedicated to conservation such as the Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and Conservation International.

The extinction risk of global warming is the risk of species becoming extinct due to the effects of global warming. This may be Earth's sixth major extinction, often called the Anthropocene or Holocene extinction.

Living Planet Index

The Living Planet Index (LPI) is an indicator of the state of global biological diversity, based on trends in vertebrate populations of species from around the world. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) manages the index in cooperation with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) a.k.a. the World Wildlife Federation.

Environmental issues harmful effects of human activity on the biophysical environment

Environmental issues are harmful effects of human activity on the biophysical environment. Environmental protection is a practice of protecting the natural environment on the individual, organizational or governmental levels, for the benefit of both the environment and humans. Environmentalism, a social and environmental movement, addresses environmental issues through advocacy, education and activism.

At the global scale sustainability and environmental management involves managing the oceans, freshwater systems, land and atmosphere, according to sustainability principles.

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services scientific intergovernmental body which assesses the state of biodiversity

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an intergovernmental organization established to improve the interface between science and policy on issues of biodiversity and ecosystem services. It is intended to serve a similar role to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Lindsay C. Stringer is a Professor in Environment and Development at the School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, UK.

Biodiversity loss is the extinction of species worldwide, and also the local reduction or loss of species in a certain habitat.

K.N. Ninan Karachepone N. Ninan

Karachepone N. Ninan is an ecological economist. Dr. Ninan was born in Nairobi, Kenya where he had his early school education. Thereafter he relocated to India where he continued his high school and college education.

Decline in insect populations Ecological trend

Several studies report a substantial decline in insect populations. Most commonly, the declines involve reductions in abundance, though in some cases entire species are going extinct. The declines are far from uniform. In some localities, there have been reports of increases in overall insect population, and some types of insects appear to be increasing in abundance across the world. A 2020 meta study published in the journal Science found that globally, terrestrial insects appear to declining in abundance at a rate of about 9% per decade, while the abundance of freshwater insects has increased. The authors note that the 9% figure may not accurately reflect the pace of decline in all parts of the world. Compared to Europe, much less historical data on insect decline is available for regions such as Asia or Africa.

The United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030 was conceived as a means of highlighting the need for greatly increased global cooperation to restore degraded and destroyed ecosystems, contributing to efforts to combat climate change and safeguard biodiversity, food security, and water supply.

Jeannine Cavender-Bares is a professor at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Ecology, Evolution & Behavior. Her research integrates evolutionary biology, ecology, and physiology by studying the functional traits of plants, with a particular focus on oaks.

This is a article of notable issues relating to the environment in 2019. They relate to environmental law, conservation, environmentalism and environmental issues.


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