Last reviewed 18 September 2020

“Unprecedented biodiversity loss” is increasing the likelihood of diseases spreading from animals to humans, according to a new UN report.

The world has failed to meet any of the key biodiversity targets that would have helped prevent the continuing destruction of wildlife and prevent the collapse of ecosystems.

None of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, agreed in Japan 10 years ago, have been fully met and only 6 have been partially achieved, which the report says increases the risk of more diseases like coronavirus.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which produced the report said, “humanity stands at a crossroads”.

“As nature degrades, new opportunities emerge for the spread to humans and animals of devastating diseases like this year’s coronavirus. The window of time available is short, but the pandemic has also demonstrated that transformative changes are possible when they must be made,” Mrema added.

The  Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 (GBO-5), published by the CBD, is an authoritative overview of the state of nature and how nations have responded to biodiversity loss over the last 10 years.

The report calls for a shift away from “business as usual” across a range of human activities, including unsustainable farming and fishing practices, promotion of healthy diets, and nature-based climate action to slow global warming from fossil fuels.

Commenting on the report, Inger Andersen Executive Director, UNEP said it was time to “scale-up collaboration for nature-positive outcomes” to bring about change.

“If we do not, biodiversity will continue to buckle under the weight of land- and sea-use change, overexploitation, climate change, pollution and invasive alien species. This will further damage human health, economies and societies — with particularly detrimental effects on indigenous peoples and local communities,” she added.

The next UN Biodiversity Conference due to take place in China, in October, has been postponed unity May 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.