New targets for improved biodiversity

The ten-year Strategic Plan for Biodiversity is coming to an end, making it timely to assess its appropriateness in a post-2020 framework. IIASA researchers proposed a new target and a set of indicators that can galvanize global conservation efforts and lead to positive biodiversity outcomes.

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In 2010, parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) committed themselves to the CBD Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Although substantial advances were made in terms of expanding the number and size of protected areas globally, biodiversity continues to decline both within and outside these areas.

Focusing on Aichi Target 11, which is concerned with conserving protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures by 2020, IIASA researchers identified four broad problems with the target that have led to perverse outcomes and an inability of nations to account for true conservation progress. The authors of the resulting study [1] proposed a new target and a set of indicators for site-based conservation beyond 2020 aimed at overcoming these issues and galvanizing global conservation efforts.

The suggested new target, which is based on biodiversity outcomes rather than inputs or outputs that address all these issues, calls for systematic monitoring across all global sites of biodiversity significance such as the Key Biodiversity Areas, to determine whether prevailing management practices are effective in retaining or restoring an area’s biodiversity value.

The researchers suggest employing methods like remote sensing techniques to assess issues like deforestation and evaluate impacts on and threats to species. This approach can be complemented with systematic on-site monitoring approaches that can be applied across large networks of sites, using available databases and historical data to establish baseline trends. The proposed target links area-based conservation measures with the biodiversity status and trends that they are meant to maintain and improve. The target also allows countries to act locally by setting national and regional targets while framing their actions within a global biodiversity agenda.

The signatory nations to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity will establish a new Strategic Plan 2021-2030 at the 15th conference of the parties of the Convention, to be held in Beijing, China in October 2020. This research provides clear guidance on what the next target for protected areas should be to maintain or restore biodiversity in a good conservation status by 2030.


[1] Visconti P, Butchart S, Brooks T, Langhammer D, Marnewick D, Vergara S, Yanosky A, & Watson J (2019). Protected area targets post-2020. Science 364 (6437): 239-241.