Assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services for Europe and Central Asia

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is often in the news. We hear much less about the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). This too is an intergovernmental organization set up in 2012 to provide politicians all over the world with an assessment of the state of biodiversity and ecosystems based on scientific data. Its ultimate aim can be summed up in a few words: the preservation of the natural environment for future generations.

We are mentioning it here because in its plenary session in March 2018 the IPBES presented an exhaustive report on the state of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The collection and analysis of the data and the preparation of the report took 3 years and the work of hundreds of experts from 45 different countries. Subdivided into geographical regions, the report provides the most up-to-date snapshot available of the state of biodiversity and ecosystems. At the same time it sets out the measures that can be taken to avoid any further deterioration in natural conditions.

The data is increasingly alarming, while the cost in terms both of human life and the economy grows constantly. One of the most worrying findings relates to the degradation of the soil and the land which will lead to sharp falls in food production. It is predicted in fact that agricultural production will fall by between 10% and 50% by 2050, depending on the region. Of course, the degradation of the soil is also described as one of the major contributors to climate change. The release of carbon that was previously held in the soil has led to an estimated additional 4.4 billion tonnes of C02 emissions every year.

In order to remedy this situation the report recommends: sustainable management of the soil, reforestation, changes in farming practice, fewer pesticides…: in short, all the measures that researchers, ignored like so many Cassandras, have been recommending for some time. The report also stresses that in economic terms, actions aimed at restoration are ten times more cost-effective than the actions needed to repair the damage.

The section concerning the European Union, which is part of the Europe and Central Asia region, can be found here.