Biodiversity loss is probably a challenge that is often ignored as climate change looms. Currently the world is losing species at a rate that is 100 to 1000 times faster than the natural extinction rate, further, it is currently seeing the sixth mass extinction.
The previous mass extinction occured 65 million years ago, and was caused by ecosystem changes, changes in atmospheric chemistry, impacts of asteroids and volcanoes. For the first time in history, the current extinction is called by the competition for resources between a single species Homo sapiens and all others.
A recent conference arranged by the Danish Ministry of Environment in the University of Copenhagen, provided an opportunity to influence the process of organizing a UN Biodiversity Panel. More than 100 scientists and decision makers from the EU countries gathered and came to the conclusion that drastic measures should be taken to decelerate current loss of biodiversity.
Arresting biodiversity loss is the one of the most important sustainability measures that can be taken. Professor Carsten Rahbek, Director for the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen has said that the establishment of the UN Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is very urgent. This not only will give biodiversity loss, the same status as climate change but will also provide the platform for collaborative action by scientists, politicians and government authorities.
Professor Rahbek stated that: “There is a need to produce future scenarios that are easily understood and at the same time bring together the best scientists in this field. It is technically possible to develop such scenarios, if they are requested by decision-makers and politicians involved in the IPBES process. The myth that university scientists cannot or will not contribute to concrete solutions of large-scale society problems in close collaboration with practitioners, decision makers and politicians has been shown to be untrue through our close engagement in the organisation and participation in these workshops.”
With the establishment of this panel, there is the hope that there will be increased awareness and policy changes around the world. Last year was the Year of Biodiversity and the decision to start a special panel to oversee biodiversity loss might just be the first step towards global conservation efforts. There are many things that companies can do to arrest biodiversity loss – paying attention to their supply chain is one of them. Others include active participation in conservation programs to ensure that business operations do not affect ecosystems.
Image Credit: Akhila Vijayaraghavan ©