UWE Bristol Professor contributes to United Nations report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

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Professor Jona Razzaque (Professor of Environmental Law; Environmental Law and Sustainability Research Group at UWE Bristol) has recently completed a ground-breaking report for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Professor Razzaque acted as a Coordinating Lead Author of the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.  Funded by the United Nations, this landmark report presents a wide range of policy responses to promote transformative change, and contributes to post-2030 Agenda of the United Nations for biodiversity governance. The report involved:

  • 30 Coordinating Lead Authors
  • 150 experts from 50 countries
  • 350 contributing authors
  • 6 chapters. 

The report warns about the danger of the global decline of nature and the acceleration of species extinction at unprecedented rates. The Report finds that around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, more than ever before in human history. Amongst the species that are at risk that are highlighted by the Report include frogs and other amphibians (a 40% decline), reef-forming corals (a 33% decline), marine mammals, insects and at least 680 vertebrates.

IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson, states “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

The report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” he said. “Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”

Professor Razzaque adds that “While international biodiversity law has evolved over the years, progress to meet Aichi Biodiversity Targets and Sustainable Development Goals is not satisfactory. Our chapter on ‘Options for Decision makers’ demonstrates that the implementation of 2050 Vision for Biodiversity will require concerted efforts in relation to target setting and policy responses that foster transformative change. Along with existing policy instruments and regulations, additional measures and transformative governance approaches are necessary to address the root causes of the deterioration of nature.

Based on the systematic review of about 15,000 scientific and government sources, the Report also draws on indigenous and local knowledge.

The impact of the Global Assessment has been far-reaching, as it tracks all global, regional, national and local impacts. Find out more about impacts from the IPBES Impact Tracking Database (TRACK).

Some of the Coordinating Lead Authors at the annual meeting

Globally, for example, between 2019-2021, the Global Assessment Report has influenced:

  • 11 new/changed laws or regulations
  • 6 new/changed policies
  • 5 new/changed investment decisions.

In the UK, the following examples highlight the influence of the Global Assessment Report on various decisions and measures:

  • UK government draws on the findings of the Global Assessment in the Green Finance Strategy
  • Welsh Government cancels plans to build £1.6bn highway
  • Members of the Welsh Parliament propose Bill on non-carbon emission public vehicles
  • British Natural History Museum declares Planetary Emergency
  • UK government launches a Call for Evidence on safeguarding biodiversity in the UK Overseas Territories
  • Cambridge City Council declares Biodiversity Emergency.

Professor Razzaque acted as the Coordinating Lead Author and contributed to the following four key outputs; these are available in UWE Bristol Research Repository:

Further reading: