FNs naturpanel: The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
Sandra Díaz et al.
While more food, energy and materials than ever before are now being supplied to people in most places, this is increasingly at the expense of
nature’s ability to provide such contributions in the future and frequently undermines nature’s many other contributions, which range from water quality regulation to sense of place. The biosphere, upon which humanity as a whole depends, is being altered to an unparalleled degree across all spatial scales. Biodiversity –the diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems –is declining faster than at any time in human history
Nature is essential for human existence and good quality of life. Most of nature’s contributions to people are not fully replaceable, and some are irreplaceable.
Nature plays a critical role in providing food and feed, energy, medicines and genetic resources and a variety of materials fundamental for people’s physical well-being and for maintaining culture. For example, more than 2 billion people rely on wood fuelto meet their primary energy needs, an estimated 4 billion people rely primarily on natural medicines for their health care and some 70 per cent of drugs used for cancer are natural or are synthetic products inspired by nature. Nature, through its ecological and evolutionary processes, sustains the quality of the air, fresh water and soils on which humanity depends, distributes fresh water, regulates the climate, provides pollination and pest control and reduces the impact of natural hazards. For example, more than 75 per cent of global food crop types, including fruits and vegetables and some of the most important cash crops such as coffee, cocoa and almonds, rely on animal pollination. Marine and terrestrial ecosystems are the sole sinks for anthropogenic carbon emissions, with a gross sequestration of 5.6 gigatons of carbon per year (the equivalent of some 60 per cent of global anthropogenic emissions). Nature underpins all dimensions of human health and contributes to non-material aspects of quality of life –inspiration and learning, physical and psychological experiences, and supporting identities –that are central to quality of life and cultural integrity, even if their aggregated value is difficult to quantify. Most of nature’s contributions are co-produced with people, but while anthropogenic assets –knowledge and institutions, technology infrastructure and financial capital –can enhance or partially replace some of those contributions, some are irreplaceable. The diversity of nature maintains humanity’s ability to choose alternatives in the face of an uncertain future.
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