Blueprint to save nature by 2050 – Expert Reaction

New global targets to protect nature and biodiversity are proposed in a UN framework, which stresses people and nature can’t be separated.

Released overnight, the framework contains actions aiming to achieve harmony between people and nature by 2050. Targets include cutting pesticide use by at least two-thirds, and halving invasive introduced species, over the next decade. The framework will be considered at the COP15 global conference in October.

The SMC asked experts to comment on the framework.

Dr Duane Peltzer, Chief Scientist of BioHeritage National Science Challenge and Principal Scientist, Ecosystem Ecology, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, comments:

“There is little doubt that major efforts are underway globally to stop or reverse widespread declines in biodiversity. However, there is a rapidly increasing recognition that biodiversity change also has pervasive social, environmental and economic impacts, and thus tackling any one issue in isolation is fraught.

“The new UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework reinforces this view by urging governments to urgently (by 2030) integrate biodiversity into policy, decisions, and reporting at a range of scales, and provides a long list of 21 action targets required to make new progress toward an ambitious global goal of “living in harmony with nature by 2050”.

“Targets include such diverse activities as restoring ecosystems, reducing threats to biodiversity such as biological invaders and pollutants, and increasing the meaningful participation of people, particularly indigenous and local communities, into decisions. Overall the framework emphasises that major, transformative changes are now required in order to reverse declines in biodiversity and to ensure that human well-being is supported or improved.

“New Zealand is in many respects well poised to make major advances in reversing the decline in our biological heritage through, for example, development and implementation of Te Mana o te Taiao, the Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2020, adoption of the living standards framework, and shifts toward greater co-ordination of efforts among central government.

“The transformative change required to achieve such laudable goals as outlined in the global biodiversity framework is, however, a work in progress, and will require sustained support of both people and activities to achieve.”

No conflict of interest.

Dr Carolyn Lundquist, Principal Scientist, Marine Ecology, NIWA; and Associate Professor, School of Environment, University of Auckland, comments:

“Ambitious transformations are required to address declines in biodiversity and achieve the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2050 vision of ‘living in harmony with nature’.

“The framework is well aligned with the Te Mana o te Taiao, the Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, with its recognition that nature is essential for human health and livelihoods, cultural identities, economic wellbeing, and food security. The new framework endeavours to protect the intrinsic values we have for our species and ecosystems, aligning with aspirational goals in the Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy of ‘no net loss’ of biodiversity.

“The new framework also aligns with proposed changes in Aotearoa Resource Management Act legislation, including the proposed Strategic Planning Act, compatible with global Target 1, ensuring integrated biodiversity-inclusive spatial planning to better manage changes in land- and sea-use. In our oceans, the central government Marine Protected Areas Research Programme has progressed much of the underpinning research needed to inform Target 3, which aims for protection of at least 30% of both land and sea – in protected areas or other area-based conservation measures – that should be inclusive of indigenous management tools.”

No conflict of interest declared.

Dr Jonathan Tonkin, Senior Lecturer & Rutherford Discovery Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, comments:

“This report lays out an ambitious post-2020 framework to transform society’s relationship with biodiversity, and reach a point where we live in harmony with nature by 2050. The outcome-focused framework is intended to be implemented at the national level based on global priorities. This framework comes at an important time, given the current rate of biodiversity loss and the increasing threat of climate change on biodiversity.

“The framework lays out a series of 2050 goals and 2030 milestones that need to be reached on the way to achieving these goals. These broader goals relate to areas like increasing the integrity of all ecosystems, reducing extinctions, and enhancing nature’s contribution to people (e.g. ecosystem services such as rivers providing clean water for drinking, and forests storing carbon or providing food and medicine).

“The framework also lays out urgent action-oriented targets that need to be met over the next ten years, including a series of targets focused on reducing threats to biodiversity

“The importance of minimising the impact of climate change on biodiversity is also recognised as a key 2030 action target. This action target highlights the importance of ecosystem-based (or nature-based) approaches to mitigation and adaptation efforts, but recognises the need to ensure these efforts to mitigate climate change effects avoid negative impacts on biodiversity. This is a key issue given the fact that biodiversity loss and climate change are intricately linked, as highlighted in the recent UN-backed report on climate and nature. We need to treat these two threats together as climate change exacerbates biodiversity loss, but climate mitigation tools have the potential to have detrimental effects on biodiversity. We need to search for win-win solutions that tackle biodiversity loss and climate change together.

“Once again, this report highlights the fundamental need for transformative change to protect biodiversity in a rapidly changing world. Biodiversity and its contribution to people is fundamental to human wellbeing and a healthy planet.

“Importantly, the framework also recognises the importance of outreach, awareness and uptake. Getting the public behind these critical issues will be fundamental to achieving the goals of the framework.”

No conflict of interest.