14. Do you think we will achieve any of the CBD Aichi Targets? Introduction: What are the Aichi Biodiversity Targets? In the light of the growing amount of scientific research on the impact of human society on natural systems, and the resulting imbalances in our planetary climate. Awareness is being brought to the situation we find ourselves in currently, so we can explore future forecasts. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has since late 1993 been working on conserving biological diversity, sustainable development, and equitable resource management. During the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, held 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, 194 nations (later increased to 196) agreed on 20 targets, called the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (ABTs). Essentially five strategies (A-E) are dissected into targets to be reached by 2020, with the vision: “By 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people.” (Appendix 1, Fig. 1.) This essay explores whether the ABTs are likely to be reached or not.
Understanding the situation This is very different from the picture painted by scientists in the “business-as-usual” case. The most current report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that land and ecosystems provide the basis for human life and well-being, but also that human development has pushed the ecosystems out of balance, causing changes to the climate which is threatening the continued well-being of most life on Earth as we know it (IPCC, 2019). We are making little visible progress with the ABTs, and as far as can be measured 95% of nations are behind schedule for the 2020 mark (Dickie, 2018). However, due to the complexity of both the situation and the strategies it isn’t an easily answerable question. For example: Target 11 is for every nation to protect 17% of terrestrial and 10% of marine areas, especially those with high importance to biological diversity (BD) and ecosystem services (ESS). As protected areas are no new concept target 11 provides simply an incentive to invest in increasing
the amount. According to a mid-term assessment by the CBD (GBO-4, 2014) an additional 10.8 million km2 of terrestrial area, 27,8 million km2 of marine area, and 2,9 million km2 of seashore
needed to be protected to meet the target. However, efficient legislation needs to be enforced, so that protected areas are well managed and successful in conserving BD and ESS (GBO-4, 2014)(Dickie, 2018). According to CBD’s online platform currently 10/196 nations are meeting this target, 83/196 are going towards the target at an insufficient rate, 68/196 are showing no change to business-as-usual, and 22/196 have increased their negative impact on the environment, since the baselines used for the strategy1. The diversity of the Aichi targets introduce time lags as a limiting factor in measuring progress. This is easily visible in the GBO-4 midterm assessment, as most sections in the different target chapters titled “What needs to be done in order to reach the Aichi target?” state that the responses are slow, low or not visible yet, and that more investment is necessary (GBO-4, 2014). Targets in Strategy C are considered to have the most immediate impact, as they consist of protecting vulnerable species and habitats. It may yet take a long time to see the impact of other strategies in the measured data. Additionally targets can be considered to have a downstream or upstream strategy (Appendix 2, Fig 3.), depending on if they primarily support other targets or are supported by other targets, which creates even more complexity in the analysis. (Marques et al. 2014) According to Tittensor et al. (2014) the data indicates that in most cases the situation has worsened since baseline (Appendix 1, Fig. 2.), but responses, such as online databases, collaborations and indicators have increased. Their concluding remarks were that efforts need to be redoubled in order to meet the 2020 targets. Marques et al. (2014) highlights the relationships between upstream and downstream strategies, and provides valuable insight into some of the challenges with measuring the data. Fragmentation of the scientific community is uplifted as a current problem (O’Conner, 2015), as crosspollination of ideas and easily shared data analysis is greatly hindered. The need for better funding, leadership, and oversight is highlighted in the article. They conclude by promoting Earth Observation (EO), which consists of an all-encompassing range of satellite mapping and advanced sensing technology, as a tool capable of measuring many vital ABTs and bringing together the scientific community.
Towards the vision “Living in Harmony with Nature” has been used as a catchphrase by the CBD. However,
understanding what that means is a bit of a pickle. Nature is defined by Maughan (2015) as “the
phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations.” Maughan
continues by stating that “Human beings are an end result of a long natural process of
evolution” (Maughan, 2015). The late philosopher Alan Watts, promoted the perspective of people coming out of this world, like leaves from a tree, “As the ocean “waves,” the universe
“peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the
total universe.” (Watts, 1966). Essentially, human beings or Homo Sapiens has come to be due
to the prior condition created by the world and nature. We are therefore connected to the
planetary conditions and ecosystem services (ESS) on a fundamental level. Therefore the quality of relationship is vital. The ABTs aim to shift the course of development from a dominating relationship set to replace nature with human inventions, to one of equilibrium and symbiosis, by 2050. Generally the human impacts on ecosystems has been studied, comparatively a rather small amount is known about the role of Homo sapiens in the ecosystem (Dunne et al. 2016). In a
publication titled The roles and impacts of human hunter-gatherers in North Pacific marine food
webs, by Dunne et al. (2016), the Sanak food web in the Aleutian Islands is analysed and visualized (see Appendix 2. Fig. 4&5.). Findings show humans to be highly omnivorous “super
generalists” in comparison with most other taxa. This shows how embedded human consumption is in the ecosystem and highlights the potential negative impacts it may reap. Humans have been a part of the North Pacific ecosystem for millenia without much evidence of humans causing long-term extinctions. Dunne et al. (2016) suggests that the Aleut foragers maintained a balanced role in the ecosystem through dynamic feeding behaviour, like “prey switching”2, and limited technology.
The Millennium Assessment (MA, 2005) found that human actions affect virtually all of the world’s ecosystems, and that the growing demand for ESS is seriously degrading the well-being of nature. Overfishing, monocrop agriculture, land erosion, pollution, forest clearing, and urbanization were highlighted as having a negative impact on nature. Additionally human impact was found to cause alteration of the nutrient cycles, resulting in acid rain, algal blooms and climate change. The MA also highlights that knowledge and traditions of local communities and indigenous tribes is also being lost, although it could promote sustainable forms of using natural resources. Focus is brought to the notion of linking ESSs and human well-being. “The best way to manage ecosystems to enhance human well-being will differ if the focus is on meeting needs of the poor and weak or the rich and powerful.” (MA, 2005, p. 14). In the most recent IPCC report (2019) land is stated to play a key role in the exchange of energy, water and aerosols, functioning as both a source and sink of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Current land ecosystems have largely developed during the recent period of balance in our planetary climate, and changes to it comes with heavy repercussions to the natural systems. Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) activities were found to account for around 13% of CO2, 44% of methane (CH4), and 82% of nitrous oxide (N2O) emission during 2007-2016. This amounts to a total of 23% of GHGs. When adding pre- and post- production activities in the global food system, the figure rises up to an estimated 37% of anthropogenic GHG emissions. However, when human activity is focused on sustainable land management and restorative development, the negative impacts, like climate change and land degradation, are reversed. “Reducing and reversing land degradation, at scales from individual farms to entire watersheds, can provide cost effective, immediate, and long-term benefits to communities and support several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with co-benefits for adaptation (very high confidence) and mitigation (high confidence)” (IPCC, 2019, p. 24). Callaghan & Colton (2007) promotes the middle ground, over immediate needs and the future vision, bringing the focus to increase long and short term community resilience3 by highlighting
different forms of community capital. They state that by uplifting on-going processes on the land-scale, a holistic understanding of the place can be understood by stakeholders, such as managers, planners, council members, and residents. Three American Ecovillages4 were studied by Sherry & Ormsby (2016): EcoVillage at Ithaca; Earthaven; and Sirius. In terms of GHG emissions the case study revealed that on average residents of the Ecovillages had a 66% smaller carbon footprint than US average. Ecovillages bring the focus to the land and empowerment of its residents, but requires maturity of members, as responsibility is shared fairly, and decisions are made communally. There is a growing network of the relatively new concept, mainly connected via the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN)5, which shows promising avenues of development in order to respond to the changing climate.
Summary There is compelling evidence which suggests that we will not be successful in achieving the Aichi Targets by 2020. Perhaps a couple of targets are reached by a handful of nations, but even in these cases the criteria or accurate assessment of their viability to reach the strategic goals is uncertain. However, the twenty goals were ambitious to begin with, as the strategy is aimed at introducing a fundamental change in the way we live, consume, develop, and interact with nature. Therefore, it is natural that the initial phase may take longer than anticipated, but once the foundation and framework has been changed, and the changemakers are confident in the new direction, change may occur faster than anticipated. It is unlikely that we know how life will transform, or if this change in direction and development can happen rapidly enough. It will remain to be seen. However, it could prove a vital threshold for our species to transcend for a thriving future. Ultimately it is the 2050 vision that carries the most importance, and limiting the rise in temperature to 1,5°C, which has been estimated achievable with a 66,6% probability if we emit no more than 420 GtCO2 between 2018 and 2030 (IPCC, 2018). A post-2020 strategy is
already in the making which will focus on restoration. education and empowerment (N.D.Burgess, personal communication, August 7th 2019), and will utilize the analytical results of the ABTs. For now we can simply do our best with what we got, practice patience, limit emissions and divest in fossil fuels, and hope that it really is the turtle that wins the race.
Footnotes: 1. “Prey switching” is a behaviour where the focus of hunting is switched between different taxa under different seasonal and environmental constraints. 2. https://www.cbd.int/aichi-targets/target/11 3. Shaw (2012) defined resilience as the ability to respond to crises by “changing to a new state that is more sustainable in the current environment”. 4. Ecovillage defined by Sherry & Ormsby (2012) as a “semi-self-sufficient, human-scale, cooperative, sustainable settlement that integrates all the primary facets of life--sociality, alternative economics, food production, energy, shelter, recreation, and manufacturing -- with a sensitivity toward the environment and its natural cycles” 5. https://ecovillage.org/
References: Callaghan, E. G., & Colton, J. (2008). Building sustainable & resilient communities: A balancing of community capital. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10(6), 931-942. doi:10.1007/s10668-007-9093-4 O’Connor, B., Secades, C., Penner, J., Sonnenschein, R., Skidmore, A., Burgess, N. D., Hutton, J., M. (2015) Earth observation as a tool for tracking progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation. doi: 10.1002/rse2.4 Dickie, G., (2018) Aichi or Bust: Is the World on Target to Protect Its Most Threatened Ecosystems? The Revelator: wild, incisive, fearless. Accessed 16.08.2019 at https://therevelator.org/aichi-protect-ecosystems/ Dunne, J., A., Maschner, H., Betts, M., W., Huntly, N., Russell, R., Williams, R., J., Wood, S., A.. (2016) The roles and impacts of human hunter-gatherers in North Pacific marine food webs. GBO-4, Global Biodiversity Outlook Technical Report (2014) PROGRESS TOWARDS THE AICHI BIODIVERSITY TARGETS: AN ASSESSMENT OF BIODIVERSITY TRENDS, POLICY SCENARIOS AND KEY ACTIONS. CBD Technical Series No. 78 IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2019). Climate Change and Land: An IPCC Special Report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. Springer Nature Publishing AG. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep21179 IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2018) Special Report: Global Warming of 1,5°C MA, Millenium Assessment (2005) Ecosystems and Human Well-being: A Framework for Assessment. Marques, A., Pereira, H., M, Krug, C., Leadley, P., W., Visconti, P., Januchowski-Hartley, S., R., Krug, R., M., Alkemade, R., Bellard, C., Cheung, W., W., L., Christensen, V., Cooper, H., D., Hirsch, T., Hoft, R., van Kolck, J., Newbold, T., Noonan-Mooney, K., Regan, E., C., Walpole, M. Rondinini, C., Sumaila, U., R. (2014) A framework to identify enabling and urgent actions for the 2020 Aichi. Basic and Applied Ecology, Volume 15, Issue 8, December 2014, Pages 633-638https://doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2014.09.004 Maughan, R. (2015) Are people part of nature? Wildlife News. Accessed on 16.08.2019 at http://www.thewildlifenews. com/2015/05/25/are-people-part-of-nature/ Shaw (2012) “reframing” resilience: Challenges for planning theory and practice. Planning Theory and Practice, 13(2), 299-333. Sherry, J., & Ormsby, A. (2016). Sustainability in practice: A comparative case study analysis of the EcoVillage at Ithaca, Earthaven, and Sirius. Communal Societies, 36(2), 125. Tittensor, D., P., Walpole, M., Hill, S., L., Boyce, D., G., Britten, G., L., Burgess, N., D., Butchart, S., H., M. Leadley, P., W., Regan, E., C., Alkemade, R., Baumung, R., Bellard, C., Bouwman, L., Bowles-Newark, N., J., Chenery, A., M., Cheung, W., W., L., Christensen, V., Cooper, H., D., Crowther, A., R., Dixon, M., J., R., Galli, A., Gaveau, V., Gregory, R., D., Gutierrez, N., L., Hirsch, T., L., Höft, R., Januchowski-Hartley, S., R., Karmann, M., Krug, C., B., Leverington, F., J., Loh, J., Lojenga, R., K., Malsch, K., Marques, A., Morgan, D., H., W., Mumby, P., J., Newbold, T., Noonan-Mooney, K., Pagad, S., N., Parks, B., C., Pereira, H., M., Robertson, T., Rondinini, C., Santini, L., Scharlemann, J., P., W., Schindler, S., Sumaila, U., R., Teh, L., S., L., van Kolck, J., Visconti, P., Ye, Y. (2014) A midterm analysis of progress toward international biodiversity targets. Science VOL 346 ISSUE 6206. Watts, A., W. (1966). The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are. Vintage.
Figure 1: The Aichi targets, strategy and vision. Material from lecture.
Figure 2: A mid-term analysis of progress toward international biodiversity targets. Source: Tittensor et al. 2014
Figure 4: Amount of taxa eaten by specific species. Source: Dunne et al. 2016
Figure 3: Upstream and downstream relationship of Aichi targets Source: Marques et al. 2014
Figure 5: Food web in ecosystem. Red arrow indicates human sphere. Source: Dunne et al. 2016
I answered this question as part of the course International Nature Conservation, by the University of Copenhagen, 2019.
Published on Sep 27, 2020
I answered this question as part of the course International Nature Conservation, by the University of Copenhagen, 2019.