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UN’s Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 for launch on September 15

The UN’s Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 (GBO-5), scheduled to debut on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, outlines a combination of achievable actions needed to protect nature, ecosystems and nature’s contributions to people. The report, according to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), underlines the enormous stakes for humanity involved in the success of those efforts.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The GBO-5 synthesises comprehensive evidence of the growing biodiversity crisis and the urgent need for action. The report presents pathways to reach new targets for by 2030, and the route to achieve the world’s ultimate vision: Living in harmony with nature’ by 2050. 

The report comes as parties to the CBD negotiate a new 10-year global framework for biodiversity-related policy-making. The framework, which will set new goals for the protection and sustainable use of nature, will be considered for adoption at a historic UN Biodiversity Conference — the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-15), Kunming, China, from May 22 to 31, 2021.

GBO-5, it was gathered, builds on a wide range of evidence documenting the current status of global biodiversity, including:

  • Four previous GBO reports (2001, 2006, 2010, 2015)
  • Assessments by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), including the landmark Global Assessment (2019)
  • Recent research and indicators updated since the IPBES Global Assessment
  • 6th National Reports to the CBD from Convention’s member Parties
  • Reports from other international bodies, including: Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and others
  • Plant Conservation Report (Global Strategy for Plant Conservation targets, 2011-2020)
  • Local Biodiversity Outlook (relating to indigenous peoples and local communities)

GBO-5 offers an integrated overview of the world’s achievements and shortfalls of the previous global biodiversity targets (Aichi Biodiversity Targets (2010-2020)). It examines causes of biodiversity and ecosystem change, the implications for people, and policy options based on programmes worldwide that demonstrate successful approaches.

The report also examines the essential links between biodiversity and other global agendas, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. 

Says Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, CBD Executive Secretary: “The COVID-19 pandemic has provided the public with a new understanding of our relationship with nature, and that human well-being is threatened by our degradation of species and ecosystems. To successfully protect nature, and ourselves, knowledge of both the problems and solutions needs to reach people at every level, from citizens to leaders, to inspire a determined resolve to act. GBO-5 represents an important milestone on the fateful road to COP-15 in Kunming, China next year, which will hopefully result in the adoption of a transformative and innovative global biodiversity agenda for the coming decade.”

Structure of GBO-5

The GBO-5 is structured in three sections:

  1. Introduction: Recaps conclusions of GBO-3 and GBO-4, places biodiversity conservation and protection in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.
  2. Biodiversity in 2020: Provides a report card on the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, identifying shortcomings and areas of achievement and success; builds on the IPBES Global Assessment with recent research and updated indicators, illustrated by examples from the latest National Reports to the CBD, and a wide variety of additional sources.
  3. Transitions to a better future: Identifies a set of ambitious, interlinked and essential changes to reach sustainability; outlines key transitions required in land use, food systems, agriculture, fisheries, cities, climate action, and fresh water; Includes examples which, replicated, scaled up, and supported by economy-wide measures, would support progress toward the agreed vision: living in harmony with nature by 2050.

Expected impacts

GBO-5 will:

  • Update the evidence-base to inform policy making for the decade ahead
  • Demonstrate the close links and dependencies between achieving objectives for nature, climate change, and sustainable development
  • Raise awareness of the importance of transformational multi-sectoral policies and governance structures, including the effects that policies and other indirect drivers have at a global scale and options to improve trans-regional policymaking.


GBO-5 is presented with a wide audience of readers in mind, including government and business leaders, civil society groups, indigenous peoples and communities.

GBO-5 history and timeline

2010: GBO-3, evaluated progress against targets to 2010, informed a new decadal global framework and strategic plan

2014: GBO-4, mid-term progress assessment

February 2020: Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (OEWG2020) meets in Rome, Italy

September 2020: GBO-5 evaluates Aichi Targets (2010-2020), informs post-2020 global framework agreement

February 2021 (tentative) OEWG2020, Cali, Colombia

May, 17 to 30, 2021: CBD 15th Conference of the Parties, Kunming, China

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