The world has met none of the UN’s conservation targets 

Extreme Weather

The world has met none of the UN’s conservation targets 

Share on

Governments across the world have utterly failed to meet biodiversity protection targets set by the UN in 2010

In 2010, at a conference in Japan, the UN set the Aichi targets, which aimed to curb biodiversity loss and destruction of natural habitats. The twenty targets (which were further divided into 60 sub-elements) set out to expand nature preserves to 17% of the world’s land area and marine reserves to 10% of the world’s seas. 

Ten years later, none of the 20 targets have been reached, according to the latest UN report on the state of nature. Of the 60 sub-elements, a mere seven elements have been achieved, 38 have shown progress and 13 elements have shown no progress. The progress of the remaining two elements is still unknown. 

Meanwhile: “Biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate, and the pressures driving this decline are intensifying,” according to the UN Environment Programme’s latest Global Biodiversity 

Although the world has failed to meet the targets in this specific agreement, some work has been done. Forty-four percent of sensitive biodiversity areas are now being protected. This figure is a 29% increase since the turn of the century. Roughly 200 successful eradications of invasive species on islands have also taken place. 

“Earth’s living systems as a whole are being compromised. And the more humanity exploits nature in unsustainable ways and undermines its contributions to people, the more we undermine our own wellbeing, security and prosperity,” said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, biodiversity head at the UN, to The Guardian.

The WWF and Zoological Society of London (ZSL)’s Living Planet Report 2020 have also found that global wildlife populations have decreased by two-thirds, due to human overconsumption, population growth and intensive agriculture. 

A few of the leading targets that have failed to be met include: 

  • Reduction of loss of natural habitats. One of the primary targets to halve the loss of natural habitats such as forests has not been met.
  • Reduction of plastic waste. 260,000 tonnes of plastic waste have been disposed of in oceans which has severe detrimental impacts on marine ecosystems. Electronics pollution is also stated as a major issue in the report of increasing concern, due to high consumption rates.
  • Coral reef protection. More than 60% of the coral reefs across the world are under threat due to overfishing and destructive practices. The target to minimise threats were not met in 2020. Coastal development might be a leading cause for the failure to meet the target.

“We are still seeing so much more public money invested in things that harm biodiversity than in things that support biodiversity,” David Cooper, deputy executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity told The Guardian. “I think countries are taking it seriously, but perhaps sometimes they’re leaving it to the environment ministries and not elevating this enough to something that’s got to be the whole of government.”

Written by

Maheep Chawla

Maheep is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She is pursuing a major in Psychology. Previously, she has interned with a pre-school for children with special needs based in New Delhi. In the past, she has also written for her campus newspaper and the editorial department at UBC’s Psychology Student Association.