Implementing the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework to reverse global biodiversity trends

Aimee Seager, former Associate Programme Officer at UNEP-WCMC explores TRADE Hub research that was influential in framing the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).

Reversing the current trends of biodiversity loss is paramount for meeting the goals of the recently agreed Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). The framework includes agreed targets to guide action to reverse biodiversity loss for people and the planet. TRADE Hub partners at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and elsewhere conducted seminal research in 2020 on curbing biodiversity loss that was influential in framing the GBF.

Modelling the future of biodiversity and people

Researchers at IIASA modelled the potential ways to avoid the loss of two thirds of biodiversity globally and reverse habitat conversion on land[NA1]  by 2050. The conversion of species’ habitats, driven by people, is one of the major threats that biodiversity faces. They found that if trends of habitat and biodiversity loss continue, then between the years 2010 and 2100, wildlife population densities on land could be reduced by over 50%[NA2] . To reverse this, the researchers used land use and biodiversity scenario modelling to discover what interventions would have the greatest positive impact compared to a business-as-usual scenario.

Approaches to reversing biodiversity loss

The scientists’ new approach combines conservation and restoration with a transformation of the global food system. They highlighted how increasing land that is under conservation management and restoring degraded land will result in a future reduction of biodiversity loss. Importantly, it could be possible to reverse two thirds of biodiversity loss on land by increasing the sustainability of trade and shifting to plant-based diets. A coordinated effort is required to curb biodiversity loss whilst balancing the food related demands of a growing human population.

Preserving biodiversity is vital for food security

As dietary and wider consumption patterns change and the human population grows, there is an increased demand for food. This demand results in land use change from habitat conversion which causes a loss of biodiversity and the ecosystem services people depend on. Biodiversity loss and land conversion also threaten food security. Consequences include reduced access to food, increased prices, and thereby increased food poverty, limiting progress towards the goals and targets of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KM-GBF) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Looking forward

Research done by IIASA and partners set forth an integrated strategy which was prominent in the discussions and preparation leading to the adoption of goals and targets in the KM-GBF. Now the framework has been agreed to include factors such as trade, it is up to influential actors, such as governments and businesses, to implement measures to meet the targets. A unified approach is needed to tackle biodiversity loss for the planet to be able to support people and nature.

Researchers at IIASA are now working with partners to ask questions about what, or who, is missing from their bending the curve research. Scenarios and models are being updated to address the impacts of climate change and trade rules are being included to understand impacts on nature, climate change mitigation and the equity of people. The scientists continue to use their research to inform other work, such as the Living Planet Report by WWF, or by creating policy briefs. Their work to provide solutions to curb biodiversity loss continues to be developed as an influential way to show how decisions made by people can affect the planet and its ability to support people and nature.


Leclère, D., Obersteiner, M., Barrett, M., Butchart, S.H., Chaudhary, A., De Palma, A., DeClerck, F.A., Di Marco, M., Doelman, J.C., Dürauer, M. and Freeman, R., (2020). Bending the curve of terrestrial biodiversity needs an integrated strategy. Nature, 585(7826), pp.551-556.

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