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Change the system or face global ecological collapse says global biodiversity assessment



The world faces ecological collapse and mass extinctions unless dramatic action is taken to change social and economic systems, according to a global assessment launched today by The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)

The IPBES report is the most comprehensive scientific global assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services to be adopted by Governments. It exposes the main drivers of global biodiversity collapse and calls for urgent regulatory change.

The time has come to stop talking in terms of distinct crises, be it climate or biodiversity – and which is worse [1] – rather we need tackle them all as one, with total system change, according to Friends of the Earth International’s assessment. 

The report is unequivocal on the dire state of the natural world [2] and the fact that it is “human actions” that have significantly altered nature across most of the globe. The report says,

“Human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before. Around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss.”

The report makes a compelling case for the need for “transformative change”, including changing global economic, financial and social structures. It rightly points the finger at the main drivers: industrial agriculture and fisheries, infrastructure, mining, energy extraction, logging, plantations and large scale bio-energy, together with endless growth and overconsumption.  All of which benefit the few while fueling poverty, violence, conflict and escalating environmental breakdown for the many. Sadly, despite its strong points, the report does not go far enough.

Nele Marien, Forests and Biodiversity coordinator at Friends of the Earth International, explains,

“This report is yet another timely reminder that we are facing inextricably linked environmental and social crises. We can build a better world and arrest biodiversity collapse, but it needs nothing less than radical system change that breaks away from the broken capitalist economic model based on endless extractive growth, profit and inequality. We must break down all systems of exploitation – colonialism and neocolonialism, patriarchy and racism.”

Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Food Sovereignty coordinator at Friends of the Earth International, continues,

“The report is bold and unflinching when describing the drivers of biodiversity collapse, but in order to tackle these drivers we have to name and confront the actors and power structures behind them, especially the immense power of corporations. There is overwhelming evidence of their central role in the destruction of the environment, peoples’ rights and democracy. Large scale agriculture is rightly exposed as a leading culprit. The report should be the final nail in the coffin for the agribusiness-led food system. It is a liability we do not need – it does not feed us. It is destroying our world and causing immense social conflict.”

The report recognizes the leading role of agroecology to transform food systems but, yet again, not comprehensively. It fails to reflect the fact that agroecology requires social, ecological, economic and cultural transformation away from agribusiness control, by putting power in the hands of peasants and small scale food producers who feed 70 to 80 percent of the world. This means rejecting false agribusiness solutions such as sustainable intensification which include genetically modified crops and their pesticides regime. 

The report acknowledges indigenous peoples and local communities’ pivotal role at the frontline of defending ecosystems and protecting biodiversity often in the face of conflict over their lands and in confrontation with the huge power of corporations. It confirms that conservation managed by local communities and indigenous peoples is more effective at preventing deforestation and habitat loss than officially protected areas.

The report also confirms that more than 2,500 conflicts over fossil fuels, water, food and land are currently occurring across the planet and at least 1000 environmental activists and journalists were killed between 2002 and 2013.

“We need urgent protection of collective rights of indigenous peoples and local communities including access to and control of their own commons and livelihoods. We also need to learn from their ways of life and traditional knowledge systems,”

says Rita Uwaka, Africa Forest and Biodiversity Coordinator, based in Nigeria.

Karin Nansen, Chair of Friends of the Earth International summarizes,

“We welcome the fact that this report is the first of its kind to highlight structural problems, to systematically examine and include indigenous and local knowledge, issues and priorities and to call for transformative change. Ecological collapse can only be avoided by system change. This can only be achieved by giving the power to the peoples in all areas, including agroecology, small scale fishing and community energy. Notably, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities must have sovereignty to manage their territories, including to declare their territories free from development projects. Their rights and physical integrity must be preserved at all times.”

Friends of the Earth International will actively defend these ideas in the post 2020 process, which will define biodiversity policies for the decade to come in the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UNFCCC and the UN Committee of World Food Security.

Source: Friends of the Earth International

Introducing IPBES’ 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

First global biodiversity assessment since 2005


A definitive new global synthesis of the state of nature, ecosystems and nature’s contributions to people — the first such report since the landmark Millennium Ecosystem Assessment published in 2005, and the first ever that is inter-governmental — will be presented to representatives of 132 Governments for consideration of approval in May 2019.

Prepared by 150 leading international experts from 50 countries, balancing representation from the natural and social sciences, with additional contributions from a further 250 experts, working with the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services will inform better policies and actions in the coming decade.

The report will be discussed, finalized and considered for approval at the seventh session of the IPBES Plenary (#IPBES7), 29 April – 4 May 2019.

A detailed ‘Summary for Policy Makers’ of the report, highlighting key messages, findings and options, is scheduled for public launch at UNESCO world headquarters, Paris, Monday, 6 May 2019, to be webcast live (available at at 13:00 CEST (07:00 US EDT/11:00 GMT – check for other times worldwide here:

Three years in development, at a total cost of more than US$2.4 million, the IPBES Global Assessment draws on nearly 15,000 references, including scientific papers and government information. It is also the first global assessment ever to systematically examine and include indigenous and local knowledge, issues and priorities.

Often described as the ‘IPCC for Biodiversity’, IPBES is the global science-policy forum tasked with providing the best available evidence to all decision-makers for people and nature.

The report will offer an integrated overview of where the world stands in relation to key international goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Paris Agreement on climate change. It examines causes of biodiversity and ecosystem change, the implications for people, policy options and likely future pathways over the next three decades if current trends continue, and other scenarios.

“The loss of species, ecosystems and genetic diversity is already a global and generational threat to human well-being. Protecting the invaluable contributions of nature to people will be the defining challenge of decades to come. Policies, efforts and actions – at every level – will only succeed, however, when based on the best knowledge and evidence. This is what the IPBES Global Assessment provides.”

– Sir Robert Watson, IPBES Chair.


Important aspects of the Global Assessment

Building upon earlier IPBES assessment reports, especially the recently-released Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment and the Regional Assessment Reports for Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe and Central Asia (March, 2018), the Global Assessment:

• Covers all land-based ecosystems (except Antarctica), inland water and the open oceans
• Evaluates changes over the past 50 years — and implications for our economies, livelihoods, food security and quality of life
• Explores impacts of trade and other global processes on biodiversity and ecosystem services
• Ranks the relative impacts of climate change, invasive species, pollution, sea and land use change and a range of other challenges to nature
• Identifies priority gaps in our available knowledge that will need to be filled
• Projects what biodiversity could look like in decades ahead under six future scenarios: Economic Optimism; Regional Competition; Global Sustainability; Business as Usual; Regional Sustainability and Reformed Markets
• Assesses policy, technology, governance, behaviour changes, options and pathways to reach global goals by looking at synergies and trade-offs between food production, water security, energy and infrastructure expansion, climate change mitigation, nature conservation and economic development


Structure of the Global Assessment

The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the Global Assessment will be based on a set of six chapters, which provide all the technical support for the key messages of the SPM.
The chapters are described below:

1. Providing a road map and outlining key elements in the relationships between people and nature
2. Highlighting the current status and trends in nature, nature’s contributions to people and drivers of change
3. Assessing progress towards meeting the Aichi Targets, SDGs and the Paris Agreement
4. Exploring plausible future scenarios for nature and people to 2050
5. Focusing on the scenarios, pathways and options that lead to a sustainable future
6. Showcasing opportunities and challenges for decision makers at all levels and in a range of contexts


Expected impacts

The IPBES Global Assessment will:

• Provide an agreed, evidence-based knowledge base to inform policy making for the decade ahead
• Contribute an analysis of the implications of the loss of biodiversity for achieving the Paris Climate Agreement, global biodiversity targets, the Sustainable Development Goals and other major world objectives
• Offer a multidimensional valuation of common global assets and how to sustain them
• Recognize and emphasize the role each actor has in improving conditions for nature and ecosystems, and the importance of aligning efforts
• Raise awareness of the importance of transformational multi-sectoral policies and governance structures, including the effects that policies and other indirect drivers have at a global scale and options to improve trans-regional policy-making
• Be a starting point for in-depth analyses of the role of actions and their global implications


Reviewers and audiences

• Scientists and decision-makers (including Governments), practitioners and the holders of indigenous and local knowledge.
• The assessments will be presented with the widest spectrum of decision-makers in mind, including government and business leaders, civil society groups, indigenous peoples and communities.
• To ensure the highest-possible levels of accuracy, credibility and policy-relevance, the IPBES Global Assessment has been extensively reviewed, twice, through an open and transparent process, by hundreds of external experts, including government and business leaders, civil society groups, indigenous peoples and communities.


February 2016
• Approved scoping report established the parameters of the assessment.

May 2017
• External experts reviewed first draft of the assessment, with review comments incorporated into the subsequent drafts by IPBES experts.

April 2018
• Governments and experts reviewed the second draft of the assessment and rst draft of the summary for policymakers. These comments have been addressed and will be incorporated into the final draft by IPBES experts.

May 2019
• Negotiation by member States at #IPBES7 Plenary session of the text of the Summary for Policymakers of the Global Assessment in Paris, France, followed by the planned public launch scheduled for 6 May 2019.

Launch venue: #IPBES7, UNESCO, Paris, France

For breaking news, the latest announcements, calls for experts and more, register today as an IPBES stakeholder:

To be added to the IPBES media distribution list for alerts, releases and announcements, please email with the subject line: Subscribe



With 132 member Governments, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is the global body that assesses the state of biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people, in response to requests from decision-makers, and outlines options for the future based on different socio-economic choices.

The mission of IPBES is to strengthen policy and decisions through science, for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development.

The IPBES Secretariat is hosted by the German Government and located on the United Nations campus in Bonn. More than 1000 scientists worldwide contribute to the work of IPBES on a voluntary basis. They are nominated by their Governments or organisations and selected by the IPBES Multidisciplinary Expert Panel.

The IPBES Pollination Assessment, released in 2016, was covered in 18 languages by over 1,300 media outlets in more than 80 countries. For the news release see:

The IPBES Regional Assessments and the thematic Assessment of Land degradation and Restoration, released in 2017, was covered in 37 languages by over 2,500 media outlets in more than 124 countries. For the news releases see: and

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