The United Nations and over 130 governments on Monday said up to a million species are threatened with extinction as nature suffers an “unprecedented’’ decline.
“Humankind needs to make transformative change if the negative trends are to be arrested,’’ the intergovernmental panel on biodiversity and ecosystems, known as IPBES, said.
IPBES head Robert Watson said that the report presented an “ominous picture’’.
“We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.
“The biggest cause of the decline was change in land and sea use, with direct human use of plants and animals in second place,’’ Watson said.
Climate change was the third-biggest driver of species loss, however was likely to have an increasing impact in coming decades.
It was already impacting nature at all scales from genetics up to ecosystems.
“The rate of species extinction is accelerating, and is tens to hundreds of times higher than the average of the last 10 million years, the report said.
The one million species at risk represent an eighth of the estimated total number of plant and animal species thought to exist.
Over half a million of them no longer have enough habitats for long term survival without habitat restoration.
“It was not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,’’ Watson said.
He added that through “transformative change,’’ nature could still be conserved.
“That would mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganisation of technology, economics and society,’’ he warned.
The report said global financial and economic systems would have to evolve to build a global sustainable economy, steering away from the current limited paradigm of economic growth.
A summary of the report aimed at policymakers said efforts to lower total consumption of goods and waste were essential.
But so too were changing attitudes, including “enabling visions of a good quality of life that do not entail ever-increasing material consumption.’’