In DepthEnvironment

Can a dire ecological warning lead to action?

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Science  10 May 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6440, pp. 517-518
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6440.517

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After issuing a landmark report warning of a deepening planetary threat from the loss of biodiversity, a global scientific advisory group faces a new and daunting challenge: helping policymakers act to stop the decline. At least 1 million plant and animal species of the estimated 8 million known are now at risk of extinction, according to this week's report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Already, environmental degradation imperils the natural systems that provide us with food, water, and livelihoods, concludes the 1800-page assessment, issued after years of work by some 450 experts who reviewed more than 15,000 studies, and is guided by representatives from more than 130 nations. Blunting the threat will require transformational economic and social change, the report concludes. And now, 7-year-old IPBES faces the question of how to best help catalyze that transformation. Some experts want the group to put a greater emphasis on working closely with policymakers. But others caution that IPBES must remain a politically neutral provider of science-based information and not strain its limited resources.