Policy ForumEnvironmental Science

Being smart about SMART environmental targets

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Science  06 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6226, pp. 1075-1076
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa1451

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Summary

Global progress toward meeting the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Aichi targets has recently been found wanting (1). The Aichi targets were intended to be SMART (specific, measurable, ambitious, realistic, and time-bound), partly in response to the perception that failure to meet the preceding global biodiversity targets resulted from their lack of SMART-ness (2). Negotiations are building toward the September 2015 United Nations meeting on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will influence government and business development priorities for decades. Some argue that scientists must engage with the SDG negotiation process to ensure that the environmental targets (e.g., sustainable food production and water-use efficiency) are not vague, modest, or lacking in detailed quantification (3). We caution against focusing only on ensuring that environmental targets are SMART and call for greater attention on the processes that lead to a target being set and met.