The Asia Pacific region is exceptionally rich in biodiversity. The tropical forests of South East Asia, the reefs of the ‘coral triangle’, the temperate forests and the large river basins found in the region are among the most unique on Earth. However, biodiversity in the Asia Pacific region is in fast decline. For example, the region recorded the world’s highest number of threatened species in 2014 and extensive coastal development and unsustainable exploitation of marine resources have resulted in the disappearance of over 40 percent of coral reefs and mangroves, leading to declines in fish stocks.
In order to address global biodiversity loss, countries, including those from the Asia Pacific region, adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. This global ten-year framework comprises of a shared vision, a mission, strategic goals and twenty ambitious yet achievable targets, collectively known as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The Strategic Plan serves as a flexible framework for the establishment of national and regional targets and promotes the coherent and effective implementation of the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
An assessment of the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, at the global scale, was published by the Convention on Biological Diversity in the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-4) in 2014. This second edition of the State of Biodiversity in Asia and the Pacific complements GBO-4 by analysing and assessing the status and trends of biodiversity in this region against the twenty Aichi Biodiversity Targets. It is also a contribution towards the suite of assessments initiated by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and to the sixth edition of the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6) being prepared by UNEP.
The rapid economic growth in the Asia Pacific region, accompanied by increased resource use by a growing urban and middle-class population has generated significant pressures on the region’s biodiversity. Meeting the needs of the region’s population while also ensuring the protection of biodiversity is a challenge, one that will require significant effort to address. There are already many examples of innovative approaches to addressing biodiversity loss in the region including initiatives to integrate natural capital values into government planning processes and private sector operations. Such initiatives need to be further built upon and expanded. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) stand ready to continue to support ongoing and new regional efforts in this regard.