Global state of nature deteriorating dramatically
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released its global assessment report on the state of nature. The message of the report is clear: nature's condition is deteriorating dramatically. Up to one million species are threatened with extinction, many within the next few decades. Valuable ecosystems are experiencing damage that jeopardises the important services they provide for people.
Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze commented: "Humanity is shooting itself in the foot. Nature is deteriorating steadily. People are in the process of destroying the very foundations of human life. The challenges in species loss are similar in scale to those in climate change. I hope that this report will spark similar political momentum. The report also shows paths out of this crisis. The most important lever here is thoroughgoing reform of agricultural policy, and first and foremost EU agricultural support. In addition to this, we need a greater number of more effective protected areas. I am working against insect decline with an action programme for insect protection that is currently being coordinated in the German government."
Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek said: "The report from IPBES is a clear signal to humankind to change our ways and protect biological diversity. The trends in species loss highlighted in the report are deeply troubling. The report is an important milestone and shows us that the need for action is immense – also within the scientific community. Research has to close existing knowledge gaps, identify solutions and guide them into practical implementation. My ministry's research initiative on conserving biodiversity will make a significant contribution to securing our natural world and our future."
The report is a globally acknowledged update on the state of nature. Representatives from 132 member countries participated in the IPBES consultations in Paris from 29 April to 4 May 2019. Biodiversity and ecosystem services such as food, clean water and medicine are essential for the survival of humankind. Nonetheless, their status is deteriorating dramatically. The rate of global species extinction is dozens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the last ten million years. 75 percent of the world's land surface and 66 percent of the world's marine surface are severely altered by human activity. Over 85 percent of the world's wetlands have been lost.
Professor Josef Settele of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig has headed the compilation of the global assessment report as co-chair since 2016. The report is produced with the participation of a total of 450 experts, 40 from Germany. Professor Josef Settele stated: "The negative development is attributable to a number of direct drivers, for example land use, pollution and climate change. We also have to start working on the indirect drivers, the social and policy frameworks. This includes measure at all levels of society, from the individual citizen or consumer up to municipalities and governments and then all the way up to the economy, international bodies and corporations."
IPBES stands for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. It is similar to its sister organisation, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Germany is one of the largest financers of IPBES, which has its headquarters in Bonn.
The Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) held fund the work of the scientists and the administrative office that produce the global assessment report. In addition, the ministries worked together to establish the German IPBES coordination office in 2014.