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The Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO)

The Global Biodiversity Outlook is the flagship publication of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The second meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity called for the preparation of a periodic report on biological diversity: the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO). It suggested that the GBO should provide a summary of the status of biological diversity and an analysis of the steps being taken by the global community to ensure that biodiversity is conserved and used sustainably, and that benefits arising from the use of genetic resources are shared equitably. The Secretariat of the CBD has together with partners produced three GBO reports: GBO-1, GBO-2 and GBO-3.  A fourth report (GBO-4), assessing the mid-term progress towards the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011 – 2020, as well as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, is currently being prepared.

Involvement of DIVERSITAS in GBO-4: Assessment of biodiversity scenarios

A consortium of DIVERSITAS/bioDISCOVERY, Université Paris-Sud XI, FFCUL, the PBL-Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, the Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia, and UNEP-WCMC have been selected by the CBD to prepare the scenario assessment for the upcoming Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-4). The work was built on the scenario analyses presented for GBO-3, and aimed at informing policy decisions, in particular in regard to progress towards meeting the 2020 Aichi targets and the Millennium Development Goals. The scenario assessment, which was benefiting from the ongoing scenario analysis within the institutes of the consortium, consisted of reviewing existing scenarios, comparing scenarios with observations, and developing new scenarios.

The scenario analyses focused on 1) examining which actions need to be taken to achieve the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets; 2) how the Aichi Targets and progress towards them help us to reach the 2050 Vision of the CBD Strategic plan; and 3) how the implementation of the Strategic Plan and progress towards the Aichi Target contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

The technical support document of the GBO-4 was launched at CBD COP12 in October 2014 in Republic of Korea. This document presents the different lines of evidence used for the assessment of the state of biodiversity, and detailed information on findings and country case studies related to specific targets.

Involvement of DIVERSITAS in GBO-3: Biodiversity scenarios

DIVERSITAS, in partnership with UNEP-WCMC, was contracted by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to prepare a synthesis of scenarios of biodiversity change over the 21st century as part of the GBO-3. The study was led by P Leadley, H Pereira, R Alkemade, J Fernandez, V Proença, J Scharlemann, M Walpole, and 36 contributing authors. Results of this study were first presented by T Lovejoy during the opening ceremony of CBD-SBSTTA 14 in Nairobi, Kenya (10 May 2010), and published as CBD Technical Series Number 50, under the title:

Biodiversity scenarios: Projections of 21st century change in biodiversity and associated ecosystem services.

This biodiversity scenarios study forms part of the Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, which summarises the latest data on status and trends of biodiversity and draws conclusions for the future strategy of the CBD.  Part of this study appeared in: Pereira, Leadley et al., Scenarios for Global Biodiversity in the 21st Century,  Science, 330: 1496-1501.

The GBO-3 report received a great deal of attention at SBSTTA 14 and COP10 and served as a scientific basis to support the decision by delegates that the 2010 biodiversity target had not been reached (Decision UNEP/CBD/COP/DEC/X/4: Third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook:  implications for the future implementation of the Convention).

Key conclusions of the Biodiversity Scenarios study (GBO-3)

  • Projected global change impacts will result in significant changes in distribution and abundance of species, assemblages and biomes, leading to considerable ecosystem modifications. Species extinctions and natural habitat loss will continue or even accelerate. The projected changes show considerable regional differences, with impacts being highest in tropical forests, boreal and Arctic tundra, as well as in freshwater and marine systems.
  • A number of “tipping points”, i.e. an irreversible conversion of an ecosystem were identified (e.g. Amazonian forest or Arctic Tundra). These “tipping points” are caused by complex feedback mechanisms that are not yet fully understood, and thus difficult to predict. The effect of thresholds, amplifying feedbacks and time-lags have been underestimated, and major biodiversity transformations might occur even below a warming of 2°C, calling for a precautionary approach to human activities.
  • Biodiversity tipping points identified will be linked to large negative regional or global scale impacts. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem service delivery capacity decline respond in similar ways to drivers, however, their linkages and relationships are not fully understood. Changes in key stone or dominant species are expected to have a greater impact on ecosystem services than species extinctions.
  • A reduction or reversal of undesirable and dangerous biodiversity transformation requires the development of adaptive management strategies on international, national and local level. Necessary actions to be taken include increasing agricultural efficiency, international regulation of fisheries, climate mitigation and limited deployment of biofuels. Protected areas are still the most effective means of biodiversity conservation. Spatial conservation planning needs to take into consideration future biodiversity transformation, and include ecosystem-based approaches. Ecosystem restoration could play a considerable role in maintaining biodiversity and provisioning of ecosystem services.
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