UNEP-IUCN Report: Protected areas of biodiversity expanded last 10 years but more to be done

NAMIBIA, May 21 – It would require strong commitment and action from governments as well as the engagement of locals and indigenous people apart from a great deal of other efforts to get the world’s biodiversity conservation plans going in the desired direction.

While good progress has been seen in the last decade as set out in the Aichi Target 11 in 2010 to grow the world’s network of protected and conserved areas of biodiversity, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, with close to achieving the target of 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas by 2020, the quality of the areas as outlined were not completely met.

At a virtual press conference here on May 19 to present “The Protected Planet Report 2020, which is the final report on progress achieved against Aichi Target 11, the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), noted that 22.5 million km2 (16.64%) of land and inland water ecosystems and 28.1 million km2 (7.74%) of coastal waters and the ocean were within documented protected and conserved areas, an increase of over 21 million km2 (42% of the current coverage) since 2010.

However, a third of the key biodiversity areas lacked any coverage, and less than 8% of land was both protected and connected as was envisioned in the Aichi Target.

Neville Ash, Director, UNEP-WCMC said that it was not sufficient to just expand the conserved areas and that they would have to be effectively managed and equitably governed in order to bring benefits at local and global levels and ensure a better future for people and planet.

A lot would also lie in the hands of governments, while the engagement of locals in protecting areas of high biodiversity would be just as important, said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

In involving local communities in the conservation of areas of biodiversity, it has to be planned with their involvement from the very beginning, she said, pointing out these areas were also sources of economy for the communities.

It would be important to safeguard their rights, she said.

Meanwhile, in a press release issued following the launch, press conference, the UNEP-WCMC said that the post-2020 global biodiversity framework is due to be agreed at the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP15) in Kunming, China, in October.

“It is anticipated to include the ambition to scale up coverage and effectiveness of protected and conserved areas. The Protected Planet Report concludes that the challenge will be to improve the quality of both existing and new areas to achieve positive change for people and nature, as biodiversity continues to decline, even within many protected areas.

“By protecting intact areas and restoring degraded ecosystems, countries can create a network for nature that helps to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, maintains essential ecosystem services, helps society tackle and adapt to climate change and reduces the risk of future pandemics. “

The Protected Planet Report 2020 was prepared with the support of the National Geographic Society.