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UN concerned about slow progress on conservation of Key Biodiversity Areas

17th November 2021

The United Nations recently published the 2021 annual report on progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The report notes some recent success stories in conserving Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), for example through marine protected area management in the South Atlantic and through the August 2020 cessation of logging operations in the Yabassi KBA by the Government of Cameroon. However, it also highlights the slow progress in achieving safeguard of KBAs overall, noting a slowdown in the progress on the indicator of coverage of KBAs by protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures. Coverage of marine protected areas rose by only 1% over the past five years and there is a similar plateau for terrestrial KBAs, with the report describing the progress as stalled. More than half of identified terrestrial and marine KBAs remain unprotected, and there is still much work to do to identify KBAs across multiple taxonomic groups around the world. Unidentified KBAs will mostly be unprotected also. The lessons learned from actions towards the 2011–2020 Strategic Plan for Biodiversity’s Aichi Target 11 were clear that while protection coverage of the world increased, many protected areas were established in places that didn’t maximise the impacts that could have been achieved in ensuring the persistence of biodiversity. As the world plans for new targets for protection of biodiversity by 2030 there needs to be a much greater commitment by governments to getting such protection in the right places. KBAs can help governments achieve this. Safeguard of KBAs by protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures is used by the world’s governments to provide three official Sustainable Development Goal indicators, for marine (indicator 14.5.1), terrestrial and freshwater (indicator 15.1.2) and mountain (indicator 15.4.1) environments respectively.

Infographics from the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021 (https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2021/)

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