Up to a million species are at risk of extinction because of human activities, according to a United Nations report scheduled for official release next week. — Photo www.usatoday.com
TOKYO — Around 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction and the rate of species' disappearance is accelerating, likely having a grave impact on people around the world, a report by a UN body of scientists has found.
The first report of its kind by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which covers changes over the past 50 years, also warned the loss is directly related to human activity and constitutes a threat to the well-being of humans across the world.
A total of 145 authors from 50 countries with input from another 310 contributing authors created the most comprehensive global assessment ever compiled, said the organization based in Bonn, Germany.
"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," said IPBES Chairman Robert Watson in a statement.
On Monday, environment ministers from the Group of Seven advanced economies adopted in their meeting in Metz, France, a new charter calling for accelerated efforts to halt biodiversity loss and fresh conservation targets from 2020 onward.
The IPBES report, released the same day, noted various benefits humans gain from nature, saying people find sources of food, medicine, livelihoods and innovation in nature, and 75 percent of global food crop types rely on animal pollination.
It also pointed out that marine and terrestrial ecosystems absorb carbon dioxide emissions and coral reefs curb the risk of damage caused by high tides.
"Through 'transformative change,' nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably," Watson said. The change refers to "a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values," he added.
Three quarters of earth's land-based environment and about 66 percent of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions, the report said.
It estimates 500,000 terrestrial species have insufficient habitats and more than 40 percent of amphibians and some 30 percent of sharks and marine mammals are threatened with extinction.
The report also said plastic pollution has increased 10-fold since 1980, negatively affecting more than 260 species, such as marine mammals and birds.
Even though the Aichi Targets on conserving biodiversity for 2020 was adopted at the 10th Conference of Parties attended by 179 countries in 2010, the IPBES report said most of them will likely miss the deadline.
"Global goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories," it said. — KYODO