Experts highlight need for a ‘Paris Agreement for Nature’

Posted on September, 14 2018

As efforts to stabilize the global climate gain momentum, authors of a paper titled ‘Aiming higher to bend the curve of biodiversity loss’, published in Nature Sustainability, argue for a similar approach and mobilization to be developed to address the steep degradation of nature and decline of biodiversity worldwide.
London, 14 September 2018 - As efforts to stabilize the global climate gain momentum, authors of a paper titled ‘Aiming higher to bend the curve of biodiversity loss’, published in Nature Sustainability today, argue for a similar approach and mobilization to be developed to address the steep degradation of nature and decline of biodiversity worldwide.

Over a quarter of a century has passed since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit at which the first global commitment for biodiversity conservation, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), was agreed. Since then the degradation of nature has continued unabated.

As biodiversity declines and global ecosystems become altered and simplified, global efforts on climate action and sustainable development face mounting risks. Nature plays an essential role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, maintaining the quality of soil, air and water and supporting the provision of food, freshwater, fuel and fibre for communities and countries.

Mike Barrett, WWF-UK, said: “The failure of our societies and economies to address the staggering biodiversity loss our planet is facing risks undermining the very web of life that sustains and powers them: nature and the many services it provides. It is time to recognize that our vision for a sustainable, climate-resilient future hinges on taking urgent actions today to restore and protect nature and biodiversity.”

Dr Robin Freeman at ZSL’s (Zoological Society of London) Institute of Zoology said: “Wildlife populations are declining, and species are increasingly at risk of extinction. We desperately need to act in order to change this pattern and see the biodiversity on which we rely begin to recover.”

In the paper, the authors identify the following elements from the Paris Agreement on climate as key components to deliver an effective and ambitious plan of action to restore global biodiversity: (1) a specified goal for biodiversity recovery, (2) a set of measurable and relevant indicators of progress, and (3) a suite of actions that can collectively achieve the goal in the required timeframe.

Sarah Cornell, researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, said: “Concrete actions should include traditional interventions such as protected areas and species conservation planning, and also address major drivers of biodiversity loss. Our science priorities are the links between food production, conservation, and climate action.”

With countries looking increasingly unlikely to achieve the Aichi Targets on biodiversity by 2020, the paper calls for increased ambition and action through to the year 2050, also underlining the importance of nature toward achieving global targets for climate and sustainable development.

Professor Georgina Mace, from the UCL Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research, said: “The degradation of nature is one of the most serious issues facing society. Biodiversity is valued in its own right but also buffers people from climate change, enhances food security and promotes a resilient natural environment. The deliberations of governments in 2020 present a crucial window of opportunity to restore the abundance of nature to levels that enable both people and nature to thrive.”

As the 195 countries, and the European Union, that are parties to the CBD prepare to meet in Egypt in November 2018 to start work on a new strategic plan for the period after 2020, the paper suggests a roadmap for the targets, indicators and trajectories they need to urgently consider in order to bend the curve of biodiversity loss.  

Neil D. Burgess, UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre and Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen, added: “Rather than accepting the continual decline of nature - this paper shows how we might change our aspirations - and work toward reversing nature’s decline all over the world.”

The complete  ‘Aiming higher to bend the curve of biodiversity loss’ paper is available here. The authors of the paper are Georgina M. Mace, University College London; Mike Barrett, WWF-UK; Neil D. Burgess, UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre and Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen ; Sarah E. Cornell, Stockholm Resilience Centre; Robin Freeman, ZSL (Zoological Society of London), Monique Grooten, WWF-Netherlands; and Andy Purvis, Natural History Museum, UK.


For further information, please contact:
Stockholm Resilience Centre
The Stockholm Resilience Centre is an international centre of excellence for resilience and sustainability science. The centre is a joint initiative between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at The Royal Swedish Academy Sciences. It advances the understanding of complex social-ecological systems and generates new insights and development to improve ecosystem management practices and long-term sustainability. Read more

The Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen
The Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate is a long-term funded Center of Excellence. The Center is a part of the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen. Our scientists work within the fields of macroecology, historical biogeography, oceanography, evolutionary biology, ecology, population biology, climate change research, conservation biology and environmental economics. The aim of CMEC's research is to elucidate biology’s “laws of nature” by focusing on the main processes influencing life on Earth. In this way, our research helps society address two of the most pressing challenges of our time, namely; how to combat the ongoing global mass extinction of species, and predict the effect of global climate change on biological diversity.

The Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum exists to inspire a love of the natural world and unlock answers to the big issues facing humanity and the planet. It is a world leading science research centre, and through its unique collection and unrivalled expertise it is tackling issues such as food security, eradicating diseases and managing resource scarcity. The Natural History Museum is the most visited natural history museum in Europe and the top science attraction in the UK; we welcome more than 4.5 million visitors each year and our website receives over 500,000 unique visitors a month. People come from around the world to enjoy our galleries and events and engage both in person and online with our science and learning activities through innovative programmes such as citizen science and family festivals.

UCL (University College London)
UCL was founded in 1826. We were the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. We are among the world's top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables. UCL currently has over 38,000 students from 150 countries and over 12,000 staff. Our annual income is more than £1 billion. | Follow us on Twitter @uclnews | Watch our YouTube channel

UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre
The UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) is a world leader in biodiversity knowledge. We work with a global network of scientists and policymakers to place biodiversity and natural capital at the heart of environment and development decision-making. By improving access to high-quality information and analyses, we empower global leaders to make enlightened choices for people and the planet. Follow us on Twitter @unepwcmc  

WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries and territories. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit for the latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media

ZSL (Zoological Society of London) is an international conservation charity working to create a world where wildlife thrives. From investigating the health threats facing animals to helping people and wildlife live alongside each other, ZSL is committed to bringing wildlife back from the brink of extinction. Our work is realised through our ground-breaking science, our field conservation around the world and engaging millions of people through our two zoos, ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. For more information, visit
Zaroslyak (photocontest "Nature and people", Ukraine).
© Miron Standret