Extinction crisis on its way, according to new global report

A major new report is warning that human activity could lead to the extinction of 1 million species. The Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which will be published later this month, warns that our food, water, energy sources and way of life face serious challenges if we do not change the way we use nature. The report brings together work from 150 leading global experts from 50 countries, and also builds on previous contributions from scientists supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE).  

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), who commissioned the report, describes it as a definitive new global synthesis of the state of nature, ecosystems and nature’s contributions to people. Two previous IPBES report series, the Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment and the Regional Assessment Reports for Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe and Central Asia, inform the Global Assessment launched this week. WLE researchers from the International Centre for Agriculture in the Tropics (CIAT), the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and Bioversity International  contributed to a number of the assessments. 

“The four IPBES regional assessments are a really significant achievement at a global scale,” says Sonali Senaratna Sellamuttu of IWMI, who co-chaired the Asia Pacific regional assessment. “Building on these reports, the landmark Global Assessment signals the urgency with which we need far-reaching global changes to navigate the tradeoffs between economic development and its impact on the environment.”

The report presents compelling evidence to show that human activity is the main cause of biodiversity loss, and that far more needs to be done globally to restore and protect nature.

“The global assessment as well as the regional assessments are an important resource for policy makers and investors who will be able to make more informed decisions about the sustainable utilization of biodiversity and ecosystem services, while still delivering on development agendas. It is also a wake-up call to communities around the world to take stock of how we use nature and the consequences of our actions," says Sellamuttu.

“It is critical to the future of our planet and our species that we protect our ecosystems,” said Fred Kizito, a Senior Researcher with CIAT who contributed as a Lead Author on the Africa regional assessment. “This won’t be possible if we ignore the role of political stability, indigenous knowledge and the needs of the youth. We need everyone on board if we are to start making the changes that are necessary for our survival.”

The IPBES Global Assessment Report integrates research on a number of topics central to WLE’s work including analyses on changes in biodiversity and the water-food-energy nexus.