Post-2020 Targets for Biodiversity

With the UN Convention on Biological Diversity's existing global targets for biodiversity expiring in 2020, world leaders are planning to adopt a new global biodiversity framework, with new goals, targets and indicators, at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD CoP15) in Kunming, China in 2021.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has been working for more than 125 years to save wildlife and wild places, and we have conservation programs on the ground and in the water in more than 60 countries.

We work with our partners in government, Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and other stakeholders, and we leverage our experience at the protected area, and landscape/seascape scale, to address regional and global conservation issues. It is this global experience we bring to our recommendations on a post-2020 global biodiversity framework under the CBD.


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Photo Credit: ©Zanne Labuschagne/WCS


CBD defines biodiversity to include "terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part." Scientific assessments from IPBES, the IPCC, WCS, and others have demonstrated the critical role that ecosystems, and particularly high integrity ecosystems, such as intact forests and coral reefs, play in biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, human health and wellbeing, pandemic prevention, and sustainable economic development. We simply cannot achieve our shared global goals without them.

As CBD Parties negotiate a new ‘post-2020 global biodiversity framework,’ WCS is producing cutting-edge, policy-relevant science and practical recommendations around the critical need to include goals and targets focused on ecosystems and their integrity. WCS worked with partners to initiate and co-sponsor the recently adopted IUCN motion 041, Ecological integrity in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The motion was adopted by a vote of 100% of all government members voting, and 99% of all non-governmental and Indigenous Peoples’ organizations. Therefore, an overwhelming majority of CBD Party governments and the global and conservation community have now agreed to prioritize ecosystem integrity, and particularly high integrity/ highly intact ecosystems, in the post-2020 goals and targets.



Following the publication of the draft framework, WCS and other members of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), including 40 countries whose territories contain most of the world’s coral reef ecosystems, agreed by consensus to critical recommendations to CBD Parties on this draft.

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WCS supports the global efforts to ensure that CBD Parties commit to protecting or conserving least 30% of land and sea areas by 2030 through area-based conservation measures, including protected areas that effectively mitigate impacts from identified threats, and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) that demonstrate comparable outcomes to protected areas. The science is clear that at least 30% of the global ocean and 30% of terrestrial and freshwater areas must be protected if the world is to avert the worst outcomes of the biodiversity and climate crises.

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Photo Credit: ©Alejandro Vila/WCS


The OECD has estimated that government investments (subsidies) in activities harmful to biodiversity are 5-6 times larger than both public and private investment in biodiversity. Current levels of funding are already insufficient to manage existing protected areas, and the financial shortfalls are even worse in regions with a number of developing countries where the majority of the world’s biodiversity is located. A post-2020 framework must include commitments to identify and eliminate harmful expenditures and perverse subsidies, while also increasing both domestic and international spending on biodiversity and nature conservation.


Tackling the Shocking Decline in Nature Needs a ‘Safety Net’ of Multiple Goals

The paper, published in the journal Science, identifies three points critical for countries to take into account when setting new biodiversity goals

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Sixteen years of change in the global terrestrial human footprint

In Nature Communications, scientists detail the impacts on biodiversity. The pressures are perversely intense, they note, widespread, and rapidly intensifying in places with high biodiversity.

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Modification of forests by people means only 40% of remaining forests have high ecosystem integrity

Scientists, including from WCS, generate the first globally-consistent, continuous index of forest condition as determined by degree of anthropogenic modification.

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Social–environmental drivers inform strategic management of coral reefs in the Anthropocene

More than 80 marine scientists joined together to identify key social-environmental pressures and human impacts on coral reefs. The authors recommended “protect, recover, and transform” strategies to save and protect these ecosystems.

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The exceptional value of intact forest ecosystems

There is emerging evidence that the remaining intact forest supports an exceptional confluence of globally significant environmental values relative to degraded forests, write scientists in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

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One Planet Summit

By Cristian Samper
Speech given on on January 11, 2021

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Protect Indigenous People’s rights to avoid a sixth extinction

By David Wilkie, James Watson, and Susan Lieberman, Mongabay

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New Life to Wildlife Across the Country

By Cristian Samper and Susan Lieberman,
New York Daily News

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Taking a Stand to Save Earth's Oceans

By Kendall Jones and James Watson,
Scientific American

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To learn more about WCS, please visit To learn more about our engagement with international policy, please visit our International Policy page.

Contact: Dr. Susan Lieberman, Vice President, International Policy at

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