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Global Ecosystem Assessment

Topics Covered:


  1. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Global Ecosystem Assessment


What to study?

  • For Prelims: The report and its key findings.
  • For Mains: Concerns, reasons for the decline in biodiversity and measures needed.


Context: The first-ever Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services by Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has been released.


About the report:

The Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is termed as the first-ever such comprehensive report. It took three years for a group of 145 expert authors from 50 countries to prepare this report based on more than 15,000 scientific and government documents. It primarily looked or analysed the impact of economic development on nature and ecosystems.


Key findings:

  • Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating with grave impacts on people around the world now likely,
  • One million animal and plant species are under extinction. More to it, thousands of these would extinct within decades.
  • Since the beginning of the last century (1900), availability of native species in most of the land-based habitats has declined by 20 per cent. Similarly, 40 per cent of the amphibian species are threatened with extinction.
  • If one tracks back extinction of species to the 16th century, 680 vertebrate species have been pushed into extinction since then, while 9 per cent of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture went extinct by 2016. Add to it, 1,000 more such breeds are under threat of extinction.
  • Almost 33 per cent of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing. The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed.
  • Reasons: This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.
  • Human-induced loss in ecosystems: Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about two-thirds of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions, says the assessment. Nearly 75 per cent of all freshwater resources are now used for crop and livestock rearing activities.
  • Impacts: productivity in 23 per cent of global land has reduced due to land degradation. Up to $577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss and 100-300 million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection.


What is IPBES?

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an independent intergovernmental body, established by member States in 2012. The objective of IPBES is to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development.


The work of IPBES can be broadly grouped into four complementary areas:

Assessments: On specific themes (e.g. “Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production”); methodological issues (e.g. “Scenarios and Modelling); and at both the regional and global levels (e.g. “Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services”).

Policy Support: Identifying policy-relevant tools and methodologies, facilitating their use, and catalyzing their further development.

Building Capacity & Knowledge: Identifying and meeting the priority capacity, knowledge and data needs of our member States, experts and stakeholders.


Sources: the hindu.