random notes from our staff

«Biodiversity target for 2010» by Paula Silva

Phrasing a new target to replace the passed “Halt of Biodiversity loss by 2010” is quite difficult. First because we failed to achieve the target in 2010. If we keep the same phrasing and just replace the time line by a new one, people may suspect the commitment is not that serious and the result might be the same in the end…

We failed 2010 for many reasons. One of them was not tackling the drivers behind the causes for the loss of biodiversity. But it is consensual that the most important direct cause for biodiversity loss is habitat deterioration and loss. Then we also have over-exploitation, invasive alien species, pollution and climate change as major ones.

Thinking about that, we could start by the referred main direct cause: loss and degradation of habitat, which could includes damage by pollution and climate change and to some extent IAS. Therefore, a new phrasing could result in:


But this target phrasing excludes for instances the loss of biodiversity by over-exploitation, which is important. There can be over-exploitation without a significative damage on the habitat itself.

Therefore, it is not good enough. What about a new target that encompasses the causes, and not the consequences or results (more or less biodiversity), and therefore generates a higher sense of tangible commitment? In fact most of the times human action does not hit biodiversity itself, nor people desire such consequences. Human activities hit more commonly the life support systems.

Anyway, the meaning of the word “target” is indeed what we want to achieve as a final result.

However, going back to the beginning and reflecting on the ultimate drivers for biodiversity loss, we ultimately find out that they are closely related to the present economic model of unsustainable production and consumption of natural resources. Studies such as TEEB show us that money valuable ecosystem services are lost as a result of unsustainable development, or that they are – if preserved in A healthy state – a vital capital for our lives and ultimately for the long term sustainability of the economies on Earth.

A target phrasing that would encompass everything biodiversity-related: habitats, biodiversity, landscape, money-value of ecosystems and at the same time hit better the minds of politicians, economists and business people, without excluding the general public, could eventually be drawn.

After the financial crises everybody heard about bail-outs and injection of capital, as means to re-balance the system. Nature does not do bail-outs, it needs its capital maintained and preserved. But “natural capital” is now a more frequent expression. Some fierce anti-capitalists may feel some repulse for the word “capital”, but a new daring, ambitious but objective target could be:


  1. I agree with your point of view, but what will it take to make it happen?

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