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Key questions that indicators may help to answer

The set of key questions addresses common concerns regarding the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

They can be summarized in the following five core key questions:

  • What is changing and to what extent? (state);
  • Why is it changing? (pressure);
  • Why is it important? (use);
  • What are we doing about it? (response);
  • Do we have the means to formulate and implement response measures? (capacity).

The set of key questions are organized according to indicator categories and the corresponding Article(s) of the Convention.

Questions listed in previous CBD documents for which indicators are less suitable as tools to answer them are not included.

Key questions on state (relates to Article 7)

  • What is the current state of biological diversity? What is the rate of biodiversity loss and how is it changing?
  • Is the status of biological diversity status stable or changing? What is the direction and extent of the change?
  • How many globally or regionally important species, populations and habitats are at risk of extinction?
  • What is the species abundance and/or distribution (evenness), species-richness, and ecosystem structure and complexity of important ecosystems?
  • How much biodiversity (landscape/ecosystem diversity, natural habitats, species and genetic resources) is being lost?
  • Are there early warning signs of problems that require early attention?

Key questions on pressure (relates to Article 7)

  • What is the possible impact of threats and what is their relative contribution?
  • What is the size of these threats, and are they stable, decreasing or growing? What is the threat status of known genetic resources, species, ecosystem types, and habitats of poorly known taxa?
  • What anthropogenic processes have the greatest influence on the current and near future status of biodiversity? Which social and economic root causes are responsible for the observed changes in human threats to biodiversity?
  • Are direct and/or underlying causes of biodiversity loss being addressed?

Key questions on response (relates to Articles 6, 8, 9, 10, 11)

  • Are management efforts targeted to the highest priority threats?
  • Is progress being made in achieving major targets and objectives set out in planning processes, in particular to reduce and prevent biodiversity loss?
  • Are there known perverse management activities, incentives and policies?
  • Is there a protected area network and how representative is it?

Key questions on effectiveness of measures

(combination of state and response; relates to Article 7)
  • How effective are/have been the measures taken to implement the Convention?
  • Are management efforts, including resource allocation, in relation to present and past threats sufficient to slow the rate of loss of biodiversity and prevent irreversible loss?

Key questions on use (relates to Article 7)

  • What is the current state of the goods and services provided by biological diversity?
  • What sustainable use practices are in place and how sustainable are they?
  • Are the benefits derived from consumptive and non-consumptive uses known?

Key questions on capacity (relates to Articles 12, 13, 14)

  • How much human and institutional capacity is available to implement the Convention?
  • How much support (financial resources, institutional support and incentives) from national and international sources is currently being provided to implement the Convention?
  • What additional means (including new and additional financial resources) are needed to address the threats?
  • What is the management capacity to quickly react to known (e.g. poaching, fires) or unforeseen (e.g. oil spills, new diseases) threats? What is needed to build the required capacity (according to national priorities)?
  • What is the capacity to effectively manage priority areas?
  • What is the national capacity to put expert (national or international) and traditional knowledge on status and trends of biodiversity to use for slowing down biodiversity loss?
  • What is the capacity to maintain information flow?

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme