Paris, 6 May 2019 – The UN’s biodiversity report warning of mass species loss due to human impacts must spark urgent action to protect the world’s forests and oceans and lead to sweeping change in agriculture and food production and consumption.

The global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services from the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warned that 1 million species are at risk of extinction, more than at any time in human history.

The report added that most of the global 2020 targets for the protection of nature outlined in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (Aichi biodiversity targets) will not be met, undermining half of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Greenpeace Germany forests and climate campaigner Dr Christoph Thies said:

“This is a devastating reality check. Governments must start putting people and planet ahead of corporate interests and greed and act with the urgency this report demands. Leaders must adopt strong targets and implementation plans to protect biodiversity with the participation and consent of Indigenous Peoples and local communities at the global nature summit in China next year (COP15). Profiteering has pushed nature to the brink, placing our own survival in peril due to overexploitation of the natural world and worsening climate change.

“This report is not just any call to action. It’s the latest of many warnings and if we’re not careful it may be the last before losses become irreversible. Biodiversity conservation and restoration can play an enormous role as natural climate solutions and it is high time we fight climate change by protecting the nature that sustains us.

Forests, peatlands and coastal marine ecosystems must be protected or restored. Combining biodiversity conservation with drastic CO2 emission cuts and increased carbon storage in nature can contribute significantly to limiting global warming to 1.5C. These are the essential, immediate actions that can help bring us back from the brink.”

The IPBES report found that 66% of the ocean is experiencing multiple human pressures and marine life is showing “severe impacts”. The report warns further that the richness and abundance of marine life is in decline, limiting the ocean’s ability to provide food security and protect against climate change.

Louisa Casson of Greenpeace’s Protect the Oceans campaign said:

“Our oceans sustain all life on Earth. Yet most international collaboration has focused on how best to exploit marine life and this precious shared environment. Instead of plundering the seas for short-term profit, governments should be putting equity and sustainability at the heart of their approach to the oceans.

“The report confirms that the existing mechanisms to protect our oceans are not working. Today, only 1% of the global seas are protected and there is no legal instrument that allows the creation of sanctuaries on international waters.

“We need a Global Ocean Treaty to protect at least 30% of our global oceans by 2030. This is a unique opportunity for governments to work together to safeguard life, to ensure food security for millions of people and to create healthy oceans that are our best ally against a changing climate.”

The IPBES report has warned that key drivers of change in nature, such as land-use change, exploitation of organisms, climate change, and consumption levels have accelerated to unprecedented levels.

Greenpeace International food and agriculture campaigner Eric Darier said:

“We welcome the call for urgent action on dietary changes toward more plant-based food to reduce meat and dairy consumption which has well documented negative impacts on biodiversity, climate change and human health.

“Any increase in agricultural space required for animal feed for industrial livestock is a key driver of land-use change through deforestation and habitat destruction. Tackling meat and dairy consumption must become a priority for policymakers so that meat consumption and production is reduced by 50% globally by 2050.”

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