Are we doing enough to meet the 2020 Aichi targets?

Back in 2010 at Nagoya, the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a new strategy for addressing biodiversity losses for 2011-2020. The strategic plan laid out five core goals, and within this the Aichi targets were born to help to focus efforts. At INTECOL yesterday, ecologists, government department representatives, and others working on the implementation of the Aichi targets came together to  discuss what evidence bases, mechanisms and knowledge need to be progressed in order to help monitor our success in meeting these goals.

The discussion kicked off with speakers giving introductions to their work relating to specific Aichi targets. Dr Matt Walpole, Head of Programme at UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, talked about the indicators being developed both nationally and globally to help monitor the progress of reaching target 15 (relating to ecosystem resilience and restoration), and mentioned how it is not always a lack of data, but instead access to data which hinders progress in monitoring and informing ecological restoration. Ian Dickie, from the Economics and the Environment Consultancy presented the audience with an economist’s perspective to Aichi target 2 (valuing biodiversity) and argued that as a society we need to be more aware to the ecosystem services that nature provides us with and place more work into valuing resources and biodiversity if we are to mitigate biodiversity degradation and protect human welfare.

UK production and consumption of biomass goods, relating to target 11, was discussed by Dr Tony Weighall from JNCC. He voiced concerns over a lack of information available to the public over the consequences our imports have on overseas territories and highlighted the struggles that can arise from trying to understand the biodiversity implications of this. Finally, Dr Allan Watt from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology  and who is involved with SPIRAL, a project aimed at better connecting biodiversity research and policy, spoke about the value of sharing information and knowledge. He spoke of the problems that can result from a lack of knowledge exchange between biodiversity researchers and policy/decision makers, and highlighted ways that could better facilitate the exchange of information, from individuals to organisations.

The session then finished with a broader discussion with the speakers. The issue of consumption and the overseas biodiversity impacts this caused was often brought up and highlighted as an issue that needs to have greater attention. The ideas of encouraging market disclosure of the impacts businesses and organisations have upon the environment, improving labelling of products for the consumer and increasing the valuing of nature in general were all seen as potential steps that could help to gain a better understanding of this hazy area. People were also interested in how protected areas are enforced and how we can monitor the progress of such initiatives, whilst others discussed how the Aichi targets in general lack specificity and set vague targets, and how this may be hindering current monitoring efforts.