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Ambassador report

Ambassador report

[Ambassador report] Theme Report for May- Role of IPBES to combat loss of biodiversity

by Aaditya Singh | 12-05-2019 06:59 Comments 6 Comments recommendations 0 recommendations

Biodiversity is an important aspect of human development as also the key to the success of the new Sustainable Development Goals. Natural biodiversity helps towards production of food, provision of clean water, regulation of climate and even control of diseases. Yet today our biodiversity is being depleted and degraded faster than at any other stage of human history.

Mass extinction

The unique biodiversity of our planet is a valuable resource. However, it seems that we have not valued this resource. Earth's sixth mass extinction event with an estimated one million species at risk of extinction is unfortunately already upon us and whose is to be blamed for it?


Recently I came across a web report that spoke about inadequacy of environmental laws and systems for conserving natural heritage; and the resulting extinctions in Australia. The report reminded me that transformative change is required to address and stop this crisis.

Identification and Detection of the problem

A major problem that we often face is when a species declines from common to extinct so rapidly that we never notice and are able to list it as threatened. For instance the Christmas Island forest skink was formally listed in Australia as a threatened species only four months before the last individual died in captivity, but 15 years after the decline was first reported.

Currently, if a species is not listed, it is not a “matter of environmental significance” and generally there no legal basis for acting to protect it. However, this can cause many species to be overlooked till they reach extinction.

Profits and commercialization as a culprit

The black-throated finch has been listed as threatened for 14 years in Australia and during this time 600,000 hectares of potential finch habitat has been destroyed. What is even worse is that five large coal mines, including the Carmichael Coal Mine, have been given approval to clear more than 29,000 hectares of black-throated finch habitat in one of its final strongholds, the Galilee Basin. Coal mining will drive this species into the critically endangered threat category which is perilously close to extinction. When it comes to commercialization and profiteering, it appears that protection of biodiversity goes down on the list of priorities.

Role of environmental legislation

Examples of commercial gains over protection of diversity demonstrate the failings of current laws. Certainly, conservation of our biodiversity requires stronger and more effective environmental legislation. This includes establishing independent environmental protection agencies to ensure enforcement of environmental laws, monitor effectiveness of environmental legislation and propose improvements.

Indeed, the report that I read was about Australia, but we all know that these measures are required all over the world. A well-resourced, independent legal framework for the environment, with powers to investigate environmental concerns and scrutinize government policy needs to be implemented in every nation. However any laws, policies and efforts will succeed only with the right knowledge, assessment and evidence.

IPBES- A ray of hope

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an independent intergovernmental body established by member States in 2012, which assesses the state of biodiversity and of the ecosystem services it provides to society, in response to requests from decision makers. The objective of IPBES is to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development.

IPBES currently has over 130 member States. A large number of NGOs, organizations, conventions and civil society groupings also participate in the formal IPBES process as observers, with several thousand individual stakeholders, ranging from scientific experts to representatives of academic and research institutions, local communities and the private sector, contributing to and benefiting from the work of IPBES.

Work of IPBES

IPBES taps the best expertise from across all scientific disciplines and knowledge communities to gather policy-relevant knowledge and to initiate implementation of knowledge-based policies at all levels in government, private sector and civil society.

The work of IPBES can be broadly grouped into four complementary areas:

- Assessments: On specific themes (e.g. “Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production”); methodological issues (e.g. “Scenarios and Modelling); and at both the regional and global levels (e.g. “Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services”).

- Policy Support: Identifying policy-relevant tools and methodologies, facilitating their use, and catalyzing their further development.

- Building Capacity & Knowledge: Identifying and meeting the priority capacity, knowledge and data needs of our member States, experts and stakeholders.

- Communications & Outreach: Ensuring the widest reach and impact of our work.

Some key findings of IPBES

Protection of pollinators has been identified as a matter of extreme importance with the following key findings:

- Up to $577 billion worth of annual global food production relies on direct contributions by pollinators.

- Agricultural production dependent on animal pollination has increased by 300% over the past 50 years, but pollinator dependent crops show lower growth and stability in yield than crops that do not depend on pollinators.

- Nearly 90% of all wild flowering plants depend to some extent on animal pollination.

- 16% of vertebrate pollinators are threatened with global extinction - increasing to 30 per cent for island species - with a trend towards more extinctions.

- Pesticides, including neonicotinoid insecticides, threaten pollinators worldwide, although the long-term effects are still unknown.

Suggested actions to safeguard pollinators

- Ensuring greater diversity of habitats to promoting sustainable agriculture.

- Supporting traditional practices such as habitat patchiness and crop rotation.

- Wider education, awareness and knowledge-exchange.

- Decreasing exposure of pollinators to pesticides.

- Improving and promoting managed bee husbandry.

I conclude with a quote by Sir Robert Watson, Chair IPBES:

"The loss of species, ecosystems and genetic diversity is already a global and generational threat to human well-being. Protecting the invaluable contributions of nature to people will be the defining challenge of decades to come. Policies, efforts and actions - at every level - will only succeed, however, when based on the best knowledge and evidence.

IPBES is a source of evidence based knowledge and awareness that will lead to efforts and actions that will go a long way in protecting our biodiversity.

References and sources









Aaditya Singh

  • Aaditya Singh says :
    Thank you mentors and fellow members for your encouragement and valuable comments.
    Posted 21-07-2019 01:41

Kushal Naharki

  • Kushal Naharki says :
    Hello Aaditya

    Thank you for your report about Role of IPBES to combat loss of biodiversity. Its really an impressive and informative report. Great Work :)

    Green Cheers from Nepal :)
    Keep writing great reports.
    We are eager to read more reports from you.

    Kushal Naharki

    Posted 17-06-2019 03:52

Nishan kc

  • Nishan kc says :
    @ Aaditya,

    Thanks for the informative one! Good to know about IPBES and its enormous efforts for protecting and conserving biodiversity. Biodiversity are humans exquisite friend and they should be hug with love!

    Keep us knowing about many more such!
    Best Wishes!
    Posted 13-05-2019 22:34

Wonhee Mentor

  • Wonhee Mentor says :
    Hi Aaditya!

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful report with us. You have touched on some very important issues in your report. Above all, I really like how you pointed out delayed identification and detection of problem prohibits people to take appropriate measures. Also, thank you for letting us know about IPBES and its efforts to preserve the biodiversity. Keep up the good work!

    Wonhee Mentor
    Posted 13-05-2019 22:04

Himani Chand

  • Himani Chand says :
    Thank you so much for such informative report. It really got me to understand many things.
    Green cheers.
    Posted 13-05-2019 07:48

Louis Mentor

  • Louis Mentor says :
    Hi Aaditya,

    Thank you for your well-written report on the role of IPBES to combat the loss of biodiversity. Before I read your report, I did not know IPBES does actually exists and indeed they are many good things to combat the biodiversity. It seems that IPBES is actually doing a lot of research and there are already some key findings from their work, which can be used to enforce the practices. I am looking forward to hear more about IPBES's efforts to combat the biodiversity. Great report, Aaditya!

    Louis Mentor
    Posted 12-05-2019 18:00

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