Coal mine, South Kalimantan, Indonesia

This article was originally published on The Diplomat.


“The Asia-Pacific region continues to lead the world’s economic growth, but a recent ground-breaking report by more than 130 of the region’s leading scientists and experts calls the future of this trajectory into question. The report provides extensive evidence that growth has been achieved at significant environmental cost and that we need to urgently reduce and, where possible reverse, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation to ensure a more sustainable future for our children.

For the last three years, as part of the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), we have co-chaired the Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Asia and the Pacific. The most important finding of the report is that, while the rate of biodiversity loss in all parts of the region has never been higher, there has also never been as great an opportunity to stop this trend.

Between 1990 and 2010, the region grew at an estimated annual average economic growth rate of 7.6 percent, with much of this growth underpinned by healthy ecosystem services and rich biodiversity. As the most populous region of the world, this lifted millions of people out of poverty and improved the quality of life of millions more.

But this growth came at a high cost to the environment. Many of the region’s forest, alpine, wetland, and coastal ecosystems are now degraded and important biodiversity resources are facing serious threats. Climate change has led to extreme weather and sea level rise; increased waste and pollution from growing and poorly planned urbanization is tainting our water and air; habitat destruction from agricultural intensification and monocultures is destroying important flora and fauna; and the introduction and spread of invasive alien species is accelerating this degradation…”

Read on at: The Diplomat.