By Cheruto Valentine

The world’s species diversity is at risk of collapse and threatens humanity in the same way global warming does, cautions a new global assessment report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

The Report reveals that approximately one million plant and animal species are at risk of becoming extinct; many within decades. In most major land-based habitats, the average abundance of native species has fallen by at least 20 percent since 1900.

According to IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson, there is overwhelming evidence of global decline of nature at unprecedented rates.

“The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide,” he said.

There was overwhelming evidence in the report that faults human activities for the decline of nature. Prof. Josef Settele (Germany) who co-chaired the assessment with two other professors backed this conclusion by pointing out the fact that both local and wild varieties of plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing.

“The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed,” said Prof. Settele. “This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.”

Authors of the report ranked the five direct drivers of species decline as land conversion, climate change, pollution and invasive alien species. These drivers of change in nature were reported to have the largest relative global impacts so far. The authors also stated that climate change impacts are expected to increase over the coming decades, in some cases surpassing the impact of land and sea use change and other drivers.

Fortunately, the report calls for transformative change to be practiced from every level, from local to global, in order to make a difference. Transformative change will ensure the conservation and restoration of nature, which will also enable IPBES and other like-minded organizations to meet many other global goals.

Transformative change is possibly, according to the report, the only way to achieve global goals for 2030. Despite progress to conserve nature and implement policies, the report finds that global goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories.

The report released after conclusion of the 7th session of the IPBES Plenary meeting which ran from 29th April to 4th May in Paris, is based on a review of 15,000 sources and draws on indigenous and local knowledge. The report was compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years and offers the first in-depth look at the planet’s biodiversity.