The challenge: preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the light of globalisation
The need to preserve and sustain biodiversity for future generations will remain a significant challenge in the coming years. Biodiversity remains under threat throughout the world. Natural resources are being steadily depleted and ecosystems are under threat. In addition to the extinction of species, the degradation of local biodiversity also constitutes a threat to our well-being, economic growth, sustainable development and security in the short term. Dutch policy will therefore focus more than ever on preserving the goods and services that ecosystems provide and promoting their sustainable use.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment states that the degradation of ecosystem services is the result of changes in land use, climate, the introduction of alien species, overexploitation and pollution. These factors are driven by major global trends such as population growth, increased prosperity and globalisation. The second Sustainability Outlook published by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency in 2007 also states that the loss of biodiversity has not been halted (see box 1). The agency added that the current policy would not achieve this objective.
Trends according to the second Sustainability Outlook:
The loss of biodiversity and natural resources may also jeopardise efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs, see box 2). When viewed in the context of poverty alleviation, for example, the sustainable use of biodiversity and natural resources contributes to achieving MDG7 - the two issues are closely related. In this context, biodiversity can be seen as an integral part of the natural resources on which people depend. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment has shown that, right up to today, it has been impossible to reverse the downward spiral of biodiversity loss and growing poverty. The challenge is to turn this situation around. Economic growth and increased prosperity and welfare must be decoupled from the large-scale destruction of habitats and loss of biodiversity. Achieving this not only requires a more coherent policy; it also calls on us to make the sustainable use of biodiversity a key facet of economic activity, development strategies and poverty alleviation. Efforts to combat poverty and halt the loss of biodiversity must be seen in the context of globalisation, changing international relations and new markets.
The Millennium Development Goals are: