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Substantial changes expected to Antarctic ice sheets before the turn of the century may have considerable global consequences (Chown et al. 2017) (see Section 4.3.2). Under most climate scenarios, the Arctic is projected to be ice-free in summer by 2050 (IPCC 2013, p. 1090), although remnants of multi-year ice will remain off the coasts of Canada and Alaska. The retreat of sea ice is likely to result in major ecological shifts linked to:


a) an increase in primary productivity as a result of more open water and greater freshwater flow carrying nutrients;


b) a comparable shift in the source and quality of food for species at higher trophic levels such as krill, fish and marine mammals (Frey et al. 2016; Alsos et al. 2016); and


c) an influx of new species into the polar regions with productivity and food web relationships changing as coastal and sea ice systems of polar regions experience earlier spring bloom and longer growing periods for microalgae (Potts et al. 2016).


Average abundance of Arctic vertebrates increased from 1970 until 1990 and then remained fairly stable through to 2007, as measured by the Arctic Species Trend Index (McRae et al. 2012; CAFF 2013). However, some food resources are being lost in areas of diminishing sea ice, posing health risks to species such as the walrus, ivory gull, polar bear and Barents Sea harp seal (CAFF 2017). Penguins are one of the more regularly monitored species groups in Antarctica, and populations have been changing over the last century with recorded declines in some colonies of macaroni, Adélie and chinstrap penguins (Trathan, Lynch and Fraser 2016).


It is likely that, due to higher productivity, the availability of some natural resources will increase for circumpolar peoples and communities (Arrigo 2014), but changes in hunting conditions will have a detrimental impact on the Inuit and other groups that have relied on seal hunting and other traditional food sources for which sea ice provides access. Some negative impacts are already being felt; for example, a significant die-off of seals and walruses in the Pacific Arctic in 2011 affected food sources for indigenous communities in the United States of America, Canada and Russian Federation (CAFF 2017). Breaks in the dormancy of pathogenic bacteria and viruses in thawing permafrost are a direct threat to human health (Sutherland et al. 2018).


The opening of potential new fishing zones, oil and gas development and shipping may result in future conflicts, especially with regard to economic use, governance, cultural interests and marine protected areas. As the Antarctic has no indigenous people or local communities and is outside the range of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Nagoya Protocol, the equitable sharing of benefits from biodiversity to people, including those benefits derived from bioprospecting, represents a particular challenge not completely addressed by the Antarctic Treaty System (Chown et al. 2017).


6.7 Responses


A broad spectrum of governance approaches and policy instruments are used to help address biodiversity loss. Their effectiveness and specific examples are explored in Chapter 13.


6.7.1 The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)


The CBD has been the key global convention on biodiversity in recent decades and it has three central goals: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. With 196 Parties in 2018, it establishes international norms and provides a forum for states to cooperate and share information and coordinate policy. In 2010 member states adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, as well as the more specific Aichi Biodiversity Targets, a comprehensive and ambitious array of goals subsequently reflected in many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The midterm assessment of progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity targets concluded that, while progress has been made, it was insufficient to achieve them by 2020 (SCBD 2014).


The CBD’s Cartegena Protocol on Biosafety deals with the international transfer of living modified organisms (LMOs), demanding advanced and ‘informed’ agreement from the importing country prior to the exchange of any LMOs, which includes genetically modified organisms (GMOs) such as seeds. The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity establishes a framework for access to genetic resources and the sharing of benefits arising from their utilization, including the transfer of relevant technologies, which directly aims to curb biopiracy and promote equity in future bioprospecting agreements. It has been ratified by 105 countries as of May 2018. The Secretariat of the CBD plays a key role in raising awareness and organizing regional workshops and other capacity-building exercises.


An important mandatory requirement of Parties to the CBD is a commitment to produce National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) with associated targets (see Chapter 13.1). The Global Environment Facility (GEF), through its enabling activities window, provides support to eligible Parties which focuses on revising/updating their NBSAPs considering the CBD Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. This support is routed through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Environment (UNEP) as the key implementing agencies (Pisupati and Prip 2015). The CBD also supports the creation of subnational biodiversity strategies and action plans and regional (supranational) plans, and collaborates with the other key multilateral environmental agreements that have biodiversity-related mandates such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (see Box 6.8 and Annex 6-1).


6.7.2 Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)


In 2012, IPBES was officially established with a stated mission “to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services/nature’s contributions to people for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development.” IPBES is organized under the auspices of four United Nations agencies – UNEP, United Nations Educational, Scientific


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164 State of the Global Environment


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