The global Aichi Targets 2011-2020 to stop the destruction of nature failed, with not a single target achieved by the deadline. We cannot fail again. It is hoped that the Biodiversity COP15 meeting to be held in Kunming late in 2021 will result in a Paris-style agreement for biodiversity, putting nature loss on every agenda.
4 min read | Last updated 22 March 2021
Several SDGs relate directly to the biosphere – SDGs 6, 14 and 15. The SDGs, which are running from 2015 to 2030, are universally agreed non-binding goals, each with comprehensive targets. Countries voluntarily report their progress on the goals every three years. But global and country level progress is being monitored closely by many multinational organisations, including UNESCO and WHO. SDG Tracker collates data from many sources to provide an overview. The biosphere SDG targets and links to SDG Tracker are listed below.
SDG 6 for Clean Water and Sanitation has 8 target areas. Explore global progress against these targets HERE.
SDG14 for Life Below Water has 10 target areas. Explore global progress against these targets HERE.
SDG15 for Life On Land has 12 target areas. Explore global progress against these targets HERE.
As well as the UN SDGs, there are numerous other intergovernmental agreements to protect species, ecosystem functions and ecosystem services, many of them specific to domains, regions, ecosystem types or species groups.
Many of these agreements have evolved through the interventions and lobbying of committed (and well supported) civil society organisations, such as Greenpeace, WWF, Environmental Defense Fund, Nature Conservancy and Natural Resources Defense Council.
- International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), Washington, 1946
- Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), Washington, DC, 1973
- Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), Bonn, 1979
- Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels
- Ecosystem Services
- International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
- Alpine Convention
- ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution
- Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region, Nouméa, 1986
- Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (ECE Water Convention), Helsinki, 1992
- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
- Ecosystem Functions
- Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats
- Convention on Nature Protection and Wild Life Preservation in the Western Hemisphere, Washington, DC, 1940
- Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), Paris, 1994
- Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), New York, 1992
- Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, Montreal, 1989
- Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty
- Ramsar Convention Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat, Ramsar, 1971
- Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Nairobi, 1992
Yet, these hundreds of conventions, treaties and agreements, and the ongoing actions of civil society organisations haven’t been enough. Global biodiversity is in decline and human systems are under threat – and are the threat.
The 2011-2020 intergovernmental Aichi Targets (twenty overarching global goals to stop the destruction of nature and wildlife) failed. Not a single one had been achieved by their deadline. We simply cannot afford to fail again (National Geographic, 2020).
The protection of global biodiversity is going to require global systemic change through intergovernmental and governmental action, industry and business action, and community and individual behavioural change.
This demands global agreement on priorities, mirroring the steps taken to initiate systemic change for effective action on climate change, such as the Paris Agreement.
All eyes are on the UN Convention on Biological Diversity COP15 meeting to be held in Kunming late in 2021, where it is hoped that an agreement for biodiversity action will put nature loss on every agenda, with specific targets to mitigate nature change that can be disseminated through each country’s own system of goal setting, strategy setting, policy setting, regulation and collaboration with businesses and civil society.
The UN CBD recognises in international law that the conservation of biological diversity is ‘a common concern of humankind’. 195 countries, including New Zealand, are signatories to the Convention. The Aichi targets will be replaced by a post-2020 global biodiversity framework, global goals and targets. The 2050 Vision is ‘living in harmony with nature’.
The draft agreement for CBD COP15 proposes five overarching nature goals:
- Protection and extension of ecosystems
- No net loss by 2030 in the area and integrity of freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and increases of at least [20%] by 2050, ensuring ecosystem resilience
- Protection of species
- The percentage of species threatened with extinction is reduced by [X%] and the abundance of species has increased on average by [X%] by 2030 and by [X%] by 2050
- Protection of diversity
- Genetic diversity is maintained or enhanced on average by 2030, and for [90%] of species by 2050
- Provision of benefits to people
- Nature provides benefits to people
- Equitable and increasing benefits to people
- The benefits, shared fairly and equitably, from the use of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge have increased by [X] by 2030 and reached [X] by 2050
‘In a few months, the world will come together in Kunming: This COP15 for nature must be like the COP21 was for climate. And we need a Paris-style agreement to go with it. Ambitious, global and game changing. The stakes could not be higher and the imperative to act could not be more compelling.’