Bridging the gap

Technology can help conserve biodiversity

But it can only happen in conjunction with action by policymakers

PROTECTING THE biological, ecological and genetic diversity that sustains life on Earth is the mission of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. But progress has been slow, to put it mildly. A list of 20 conservation targets, known as the Aichi targets, was drawn up in 2010, with a 2020 due date. In the event, not a single one of the goals was met in full (see chart).

In 2020, IPBES (the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, a body created to bridge the gap between biodiversity science and policy) published a global appraisal of the state of biodiversity. Written by 145 experts from 50 countries who reviewed 15,000 research and government sources, it offered a sobering message. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever,” said Sir Robert Watson, chairman of IPBES. “We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

According to the 2020 Living Planet Report, produced by WWF and the Zoological Society of London, two conservation and research groups, populations of mammals, birds, amphibians,…