In late 2021, a range of experts around the world were approached to provide expert input to the Global Biodiversity Framework – a new framework under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that is effectively intended to inform our interventions to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services in the next few decades. The expert input was partly requested because there was a sense that more material from scientists was required to inform CBD negotiations. In the framework, there are four long term goals for 2050; and each has milestones to assess, in the year 2030, the progress towards the goals.
Table 1. Three types of scenarios with different levels of achievement of targets of the GBF (top part of table) and projected progress towards achieving the 2030 milestones for biodiversity (bottom part of table; see S3 for more details and projections to 2050). (Source: Leadley et al; One Earth in press)
This basically means that the planet, and individual countries, have an opportunity to see how they are doing on the long term goals for 2050 – including the use of 21 so-called ‘action oriented’ targets. Why are scientists important in this process? Effectively, our job as scientists is to translate what often read as very lofty (and commendable) visions on things like biodiversity conservation, climate mitigation and climate adaptation - into measurable goals. This translation achieves a couple of objectives – firstly, it allows us to see how, as a planet, we are doing on precisely those challenges that are compromising our planet’s health. Secondly, it means that countries (that are involved in the process) have to show in quantitative way, where possible, how they are doing on these measurable targets. In addition, such progress has to be based on evidence, and we then have the opportunity to not only see how different countries are doing, but to have a sense of comparable progress, hopefully over time.
So, as we approach World Biodiversity Day, there is a sense of excitement in the global biodiversity science and policy community, as we try to articulate these targets – but also to describe them in a way that is understandable and accessible to decision-makers. Quite frequently, the latter task is the most difficult!
Contributed by Prof Emma Archer