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Shared from the 9/16/2020 The Denver Post eEdition 

A decade-long global effort to save Earth’s disappearing species and declining ecosystems has mostly stumbled, with fragile habitats such as coral reefs and tropical forests in more trouble than ever, researchers said in a report Tuesday.

In 2010, more than 150 countries agreed to goals to protect nature, but the new United Nations scorecard found that the world has largely failed to meet 20 different targets to safeguard species and ecosystems.

Six of those 20 goals were “partially achieved,” and the rest were not.

If this were a school and these were tests, the world has flunked, said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, which released the report.

Inger Andersen, who leads the U.N. environment program, called it a global failure.

“From COVID-19 to massive wildfires, floods, melting glaciers and unprecedented heat, our failure to meet the Aichi (biodiversity) targets — protect our our home — has very real consequences,” Andersen said. “We can no longer afford to cast nature to the side.”

In a Tuesday interview, former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon connected the problems to “a lack of global partnership and political leadership.” He said multilateralism has been under attack, citing the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement as an example.

The U.N. team and report authors said the study is not meant to stoke despair, but to galvanize governments to take stronger actions over the next decade.

“Some progress has been made, but inadequate progress. A lot still needs to be done,” Mrema said.

For years, conservation activists have used the polar bear as a poster child for species in trouble — especially those threatened by climate change, which the report connects to biodiversity loss. But Mrema and lead author David Cooper said the world should think about a different poster animal: humans. “A lot of things civilizations depend on are certainly threatened,” he said.

Last week, the World Wide Fund for Nature released new research detailing how monitored populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish have declined, on average, 68%, between 1970 and 2016. — The Associated Press

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