Charting a way forward
The world needs transformative changes, else humanity will miss Sustainable Development Goals, as warns IPBES report
The world may miss the Sustainable Development Goals' (SDG) target by a wide margin if the human civilisation does not pull up its socks and promptly acts to protect the natural order. This was made clear by Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services' (IPBES) in its Global Assessment Report.
The report, showcased how human activities, were devastating nature — one million species face extinction — called for "transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors". Else 80 per cent — 35 out of 44 — assessed targets of the UN-mandated SDG's would remain unmet, the report warned.
The current trajectories used for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability, such as those embodied in the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, cannot be met.
Although there has been progress in the implementation of various policies and actions to conserve nature and manage it more sustainably, they are not sufficient to stem the direct and indirect drivers of nature's deterioration.
"Nature is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. However, taking into consideration that the Sustainable Development Goals are integrated and indivisible, as well as implemented nationally, current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems will undermine progress towards…goals related to poverty, hunger, health, water, cities, climate, oceans and land (Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 3, 6, 11, 13, 14, and 15)," revealed the summary of the report.
Nature can be conserved, restored, and used sustainably through urgent and concerted efforts fostering transformative change. This includes taking into account climate change impacts in the definition of future goals and objectives, the report suggested.
To curb direct drivers of nature's deterioration, implementing societal goals – including those for food, water, energy, health and the achievement of human well-being; enhancing international cooperation and linking locally relevant measures can help.
On the other hand, "five main interventions ("levers") can generate transformative change by tackling the underlying indirect drivers of nature deterioration: (1) incentives and capacity-building; (2) cross-sectoral cooperation; (3) pre-emptive action; (4) decision-making in the context of resilience and uncertainty; and (5) environmental law and implementation," the report said.
While trajectories of transformation will vary across contexts, with challenges and needs differing, especially in the developing and developed nations, integrative, inclusive, informed and adaptive governance approaches can reduce the risks.
Other measures include collaborating the knowledge, innovations and practices, institutions and values of indigenous peoples and local communities; coordinated mix of interventions on land, in freshwater and in the oceans; land-based climate change mitigation activities and nature-based solutions like use of green infrastructure — maintaining green spaces and biodiversity-friendly water bodies, urban agriculture, rooftop gardens — could be crucial for meeting Sustainable Development Goals.
(The views expressed are of Down To Earth)