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Reversing biodiversity loss

15 December 2020

Why is biodiversity important?

Biodiversity matters. At its simplest, biodiversity is about living nature or life on Earth - different genes, species and ecologies and, as a consequence, the varying landscapes, regions and habitats in which they exist. 

Biodiversity provides food, water and shelter; influences climate; controls disease; and regulates nutrient and water cycles. Biodiversity is integral to spiritual, cultural, psychological and artistic well-being. Biodiversity also has its own intrinsic worth distinct from human life. Humans are embedded in the natural world, and so a part of biodiversity.

Acting against biodiversity loss

Today, however, the Earth is losing biodiversity at rates never seen since humans have inhabited the planet. Human responses to stop biodiversity decline have been woefully inadequate – with targets missed at both the international and national levels. This represents a significant policy failure.

But there is hope. The year ahead represents an important opportunity for policymakers within the UK and internationally to reflect on and respond to the significant threats to biodiversity. Key policy moments include: 

  • the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity 15th Conference of the Parties in Kunming, China  
  • the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 26th Conference of the Parties in Glasgow, UK  
  • the forthcoming publication of the independent “Review on the Economics of Biodiversity” commissioned by the UK Treasury and led by Partha Dasgupta FRS

Exploring the science behind biodiversity loss

To strengthen the scientific evidence base on biodiversity and make this available to policy-makers, The Royal Society has commissioned a series of essays from global experts in fields as diverse as biology, conservation, ecology, environment, economics and population. They are intended to stimulate discussion on the problems and potential solutions to arrest and reverse the decline in biodiversity. Those essays that have already been received are available below. Further essays will be published early in 2021.

Additionally, The Royal Society will also be publishing its own statement on the challenges and opportunities and the way forward for biodiversity early in the New Year.

Scientific essays about biodiversity

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