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GBO-5 Background

The second meeting of the Conference of the Parties, in decision II/1, called for the preparation of a periodic report on biological diversity: the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO). It suggested that the GBO should provide a summary of the status of biological diversity and an analysis of the steps being taken by the global community to ensure that biodiversity is conserved and used sustainably, and that benefits arising from the use of genetic resources are shared equitably. 

At its sixth meeting, in decision VI/25, the Conference of the Parties welcomed the first publication of the Global Biodiversity Outlook and decided that the GBO should continue to be prepared as a periodic report on biological diversity and the implementation of the Convention, and be made available in all official United Nations languages.

In 2010, the third edition of the Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) concluded that the target to substantially slow the loss of biodiversity by the end of the first decade of this century had not been met. The analysis carried out for that Outlook demonstrated that while actions around the world had put in place important conservation measures with significant positive impacts on particular species and ecosystems, the main pressures driving biodiversity loss were all still increasing. Indicators of the status and trends of biodiversity demonstrated that the risk of extinction continued to increase across taxonomic groups, and species populations were in decline. It warned that without effective steps to address the origins of those pressures, the planet’s ecosystems faced a number of thresholds or tipping points that if passed, would seriously threaten the capacity of nature to provide the support for human societies that we take for granted at our peril. 

GBO-3 provided the background for the approach taken by the world’s governments in agreeing the historic Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, uniting the global community in recognizing the need to address the issue on multiple fronts.3 4 The endorsement of the text of the plan at the CBD COP 10 meeting in Japan marked the start of the UN Decade on Biodiversity, highlighting the urgency of timely and effective action to achieve a more rational approach to the stewardship of our planet.

The strategy agreed in 2010, encapsulated by five strategic goals and the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, as well as the 2050 Vision on Biodiversity, recognized that without progress in reducing the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, policies focussed specifically on conservation were unlikely to overcome the pressures pushing nature in the opposite direction. The targets and indicators developed to monitor progress towards the goals therefore focussed not only on the state of biodiversity itself and the pressures affecting it, but also on drivers and responses well beyond the scope of environment ministries, nature protection agencies and conservation organizations. The strategy depended on bringing biodiversity to the heart of decision making on economic development, alleviation of poverty, financial subsidies and incentives, and the way in which goods and services are produced, consumed and traded

In 2014, the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-4) served as a checkpoint on the way to 2020, the end date for most of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets established under the Strategic Plan.4 14 Based on a detailed evaluation of each of the 20 targets, the conclusion was that while the majority were showing movement in the right direction, progress was not sufficient to bring about achievement of the targets by the end of the decade. GBO-4 outlined potential actions in each of the target areas that if stepped up, could still result in achievement of the goals of the Strategic Plan. Importantly, extrapolation of trends at the mid-point of the UN Decade on Biodiversity showed that while responses directly aimed at conservation, sustainable use of biodiversity and equitable sharing of its benefits all suggested good progress by 2020, forecasts were much less positive for indicators of the underlying drivers, direct pressures and the state of biodiversity itself

Another important message of GBO4 was that longer-term achievement of the 2050 Biodiversity Vision underlying the Strategic Plan was compatible with, and indeed critical to, the emerging priorities for humanity outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), then still in preparation. In particular, scenarios and models developed for GBO4 set out a number of pathways that would enable the global community to meet the triple objectives of achieving food security, stabilizing the increase in global temperatures and ending biodiversity loss. All potential routes to that desirable future would, however, involve radical changes in key sectors of economic activity, most especially those concerning the production and consumption of food.