'Bend the curve' or face collapse

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Fish swimming in the sea
UN sets out how it might be possible to 'bend the curve' and prevent the collapse of biodiversity.

Many fish stocks could be rebuilt in as little as a decade, with benefits for people and other species. 

The United Nations has sounded a new warning over “unprecedented” losses to nature – and the failure of countries to reverse the trends.

But the latest report from the UN also sets out how it might be possible to “bend the curve” - possibly a reference to the Epicurian claim that existence is not predetermined - to slow and ultimately reverse the declines that the natural world is suffering.

Here are the areas where our relationship with nature needs to be transformed, according to the UN Global Biodiversity Outlook report:


– Protecting intact habitats and restoring areas of natural land, to prevent species going extinct, and support people who depend on landscapes such as forests for their lives and livelihoods, as well as storing carbon.

– Shifting agriculture to more sustainable approaches such as avoiding or reducing pesticides, mixing crops and planting trees on farms, protecting the soil by not ploughing the land, to boost wildlife and productivity.

– Enabling a shift to healthy, more sustainable diets, with a diversity of foods that are mostly plant-based and more moderate consumption of meat and fish, as well as dramatic cuts in food waste throughout the system, to reduce pressure to convert land to growing crops or animal feed.

– Protecting and restoring the oceans, coasts and fisheries and managing aquaculture more sustainably.

Many fish stocks could be rebuilt in as little as a decade, with benefits for people and species such as marine mammals that depend on them for food.


– Deploying “green infrastructure” such as parks and wetlands and making space for nature in towns and cities to improve people’s health and quality of life and reduce the environmental footprint of urban areas.

– Improving water quality, stopping pollution and protecting freshwater habitats, controlling invasive species in rivers and lakes and making sure waterways are connected.

– Using “nature-based solutions” to tackling climate change, such as restoring peatland and planting trees, and changing farming practices to cut emissions, as well as a rapid phase out of fossil fuels.

These steps can provide positive benefits for wildlife at the same time as curbing climate breakdown.

– Taking steps that protect human health, such as halting deforestation to reduce the risk of exposure to diseases spilling out from the wild, and combating the illegal wildlife trade.

There is also a need to reduce intensive livestock production, which can give rise to disease, create healthy cities and promote healthy, sustainable diets.

This Author

Emily Beament is the PA environment correspondent.

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