Biodiversity report says 150 countries have failed to address environmental crisis

The United Nations (UN) released its Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO) and the verdict is not good.

A decade ago, 150 countries met in Aichi, Japan to set goals to address climate change and the environmental crisis. The majority of the 20 goals that were set still have not been achieved. Rather than causing a panic, the UN team hopes it will be a catalyst for governments to take action.

Dr. David Cooper, deputy executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity for the UN, believes governments have earned a C or D grade on the matter.

“We’re still getting deforestation and it’s the same with land degradation,” Cooper told the Associated Press. “Whether this is degradation of forest ecosystems or degradation of range lands and agricultural ecosystems, the overall situation is continuing to deteriorate.”

One example cited is the regression in protections for Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.

“I think some of the most disappointing ones for me are, for example, deforestation, especially tropical deforestation, in 2010 I think we set reasonable goals that we could have met if we had made the effort and we haven’t. Especially for tropical forests,” professor Paul Leadley from the University Paris-Sud, Ecology, Systematics and Evolution Laboratory told the Associated Press.

One of the issues is that the governments subsidize and therefore incentivize unsustainable environmental practices in farming, agriculture and other industries.

“This is fossil fuel subsidies, subsidies for overfishing, subsidies for the overuse of fertilizers and we haven’t really seen very much improvement there at all,” Cooper said. “There’s about 500 billion spent a year on doing things that are bad for biodiversity and that swamps the funds that we are having to support biodiversity.”

However, there were a few minor successes. The danger of extinction for many birds and mammals was reduced and could have been two to four times higher. Hunting restrictions, protected areas, conservation and measures to control invasive species get the credit.

“The clearest success has been in terms of the number of and this area of protected areas,” Leadley told the Associated Press. “So, for example, in marine protected areas, we’ve gone from three percent to seven percent of the marine areas that are protected. That’s great. We’ve achieved almost not quite 17 percent of terrestrially areas protected. That’s a real success and I think we need to highlight those kinds of things.”

Governments will have new targets set for them. Hopefully, by 2030 the UN will be singing a different tune.

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