Biodiversity—the diversity of life on Earth—is defined as the variability among living organisms from all sources, including diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems. Biodiversity thus includes not only the millions of different species on Earth, it also consists of the specific genetic variations and traits within species (such as different crop varieties), as well as the various types of different ecosystems, marine and terrestrial, in which human societies live and on which they depend, such as coastal areas, forests, wetlands, grasslands, mountains and deserts.
Biodiversity is essential for sustainable development and human well-being. It underpins the provision of food, fibre and water; it mitigates and provides resilience to climate change; it supports human health, and provides jobs in agriculture, fisheries, forestry and many other sectors. Without effective measures to conserve biodiversity and use its components in a sustainable manner, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will not be achievable.
Given the need for biodiversity and healthy ecosystems to achieve the 2030 Agenda, it is not surprising that 14 of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include targets that directly reflect their important role.1 For example, there are critical biodiversity dependencies for SDG 2 on zero hunger, including Target 2.4 relating to maintaining ecosystems and improvement of land and soil quality, and Target 2.5 on maintaining the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their wild species. Similarly, for SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth, biodiversity and healthy ecosystems are reflected in Target 8.4 on decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation and Target 8.9 relating to sustainable tourism.