Public Release: 

At African Ministerial Summit, IPBES experts detail continent's critical biodiversity challenges

Continent could lose more than half of bird and mammal species, 20-30 percent decline in the productivity of Africa's lakes foreseen

Intergovernmental Platform On Biodiversity And Ecosystem Services (IPBES)

The threat today to African plants, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and large mammals is unprecedented, caused by a range of both human-induced and natural causes, leading scientists warned African ministers meeting on the eve of major global biodiversity talks in Egypt.

The ministers are determining Africa's joint position on the critical challenges of biodiversity loss ahead of the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14, of the UN Convention of Biological Diversity, convened in collaboration with the Government of Egypt in Sharm el Sheikh, 14-29 November. (Provisional agenda, African Ministerial Summit:

The expert briefing is based on two landmark Assessment Reports on the state of biodiversity in Africa, and on global land degradation and restoration, conducted under the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and released earlier this year.

The Africa Assessment shows that, while there are positive examples where lessons can be learned, biodiversity and nature's capacity to contribute to people are being degraded, reduced and lost due to a number of common pressures - habitat stress; overexploitation and unsustainable use of natural resources; air, land and water pollution; increasing numbers and impact of invasive alien species and climate change, among others.

"Africa's human development and well-being depend on the sustainable development and use of its rich natural resources," says Dr. Luthando Dziba, who also co-chairs the IPBES Multidisciplinary Expert Panel.

"Africa is the world's last home for a wide range of large mammals. The scientific consensus reflected in the IPBES report, unfortunately, is that, under current scenarios to 2100, climate change could result in the loss of more than half of African bird and mammal species, a 20-30% decline in the productivity of Africa's lakes and significant loss of African plant species."

The IPBES Africa Report shows an estimated 20 per cent of Africa's land surface (6.6 million km2) is estimated to be degraded because of soil erosion, salinization, pollution and loss of vegetation or soil fertility. Even greater pressure will be placed on the continent's biodiversity as the current African population of 1.25 billion people is set to double to 2.5 billion by 2050.

"The degradation of the Earth's land surface, through human activities, is pushing the planet towards a sixth mass species extinction," says Prof. Robert Scholes, who co-chaired the IPBES Land Degradation Assessment.

"Less than 25% of our planet's land surface has escaped substantial impacts of human activity - and by 2050 this is likely to be less than 10%. The combination of land degradation and climate change is predicted to reduce global crop yields by an average of 10%, and by 50% in some regions. Most future degradation will occur in Central and South America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia."

Prof. Scholes adds however, that we know how to successfully restore land in every ecosystem, and that avoiding or reversing degradation is possible. "Higher employment and the other benefits of land restoration often far exceed the costs involved. For regions like Asia and Africa, the cost of inaction in the face of land degradation is at least three times higher than the cost of action."

By the numbers


Trends / data

    +/- 6.6 million: km2 of land is degraded due to factors such as deforestation, unsustainable agriculture, overgrazing, uncontrolled mining activities, invasive alien species and climate change, leading to soil erosion, salinization, pollution, and loss of vegetation or soil fertility

    +/- 62%: rural population directly dependent on wild nature and its services for survival (the most of any continent)

    +/- 2 million: km2 of land designated as protected (including 6% of biodiversity-rich tropical evergreen broadleaf forests and 2.5% of Africa's seas

    25%: people having faced hunger and malnutrition (2011-2013) in Sub-Saharan Africa, the world's most food-deficient region

    Economic values of nature's contributions to people

West Africa

    $4 billion: coastal fishery value added (per year)

    $40,000: water purification services (per km2, per year)

    $4,500: mangrove coastal protection services (per km2, per year)

    $2,800: coastal carbon sequestration services (average per km2, per year)

Central Africa

    $2 billion: coastal fishery value added (per year)

    $0.8 billion: inland fishery value added (per year)

    $14,000: forest carbon sequestration services (average per km2, per year)

    $3,500: mangrove coastal protection services (per km2, per year)

    $3,000: timber value added (per km2, per year)

Southern Africa

    $0.5 billion: coastal fishery value added (per year)

    $0.3 billion: inland fishery value added (per year)

    $9,000: recreation value (per km2, per year)

North Africa

    $0.6 billion: inland fishery value added (per year)

    $0.5 billion: coastal fishery value added (per year)

    $300: coastal carbon sequestration services (average per km2, per year)

    $2,000: timber production (per km2, per year)

East Africa and adjacent islands

    $2.5 billion: coastal fishery value added (per year)

    $1.2 billion: inland fishery value added (per year)

    $16,000: food production (per km2, per year)

    $12,000: forest carbon sequestration services (average per km2, per year)

    $11,000: erosion control (average per km2, per year)

    $7,800: forest bioprospecting (per km2, per year)

    $5,000: mangrove coastal protection services (per km2, per year)

    $2,200: coastal carbon sequestration services (average per km2, per year)


    50% of African bird and mammal species could be lost to climate change by 2100

    20 - 30%: expected decline in productivity of lakes by 2100

    2.5 billion: predicted population of Africa in 2050 (double the current figure)

    54%: Africans expected to live in urban and peri-urban areas by 2030 (up from 39% in 2003)

The IPBES reports can be accessed together with photos, 'B-roll' and other media resources here:

The Africa Assessment Report:

The Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment Report:

African Ministerial declaration

At the conclusion of the African Ministerial Summit in Egypt (approximately 6 pm local time / 4 pm GMT) Tuesday Nov. 13, the ministers will issue a summit declaration, (to be made available at the summit website,

The following day, the full UN Biodiversity Conference 2018 begins in Egypt with a High-Level Segment (14-15 November, As many as 80 ministers of Environment, Infrastructure, Energy, Industry and other sectors are expected to join in discussions on mainstreaming biodiversity into their respective fields of work.

From 17-29 November, negotiations will be undertaken among 196 Parties to the CBD on the following main themes: Achieving the globally-agreed Aichi Biodiversity Targets (2010-2020); mainstreaming biodiversity issues; and the beginning of two years of negotiation of the post 2020 global framework for biodiversity, scheduled for final agreement at CBD COP15 in China in 2020.

Three years in development the IPBES Assessment Reports involved the review of several thousand scientific papers, as well as extensive Government and other information sources, including indigenous and local knowledge,. Together they represent the most important expert contribution of the past decade to understanding of nature and its contributions to people, offering a roadmap for future action.


About IPBES:

Often described as the "IPCC for biodiversity" IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body comprising 130 member Governments. Established by Governments in 2012, it provides policymakers with objective scientific assessments about the state of knowledge regarding the planet's biodiversity, ecosystems and the contributions they make to people, as well as the tools and methods to protect and sustainably use these vital natural assets. For more information about IPBES and its assessments visit

Twitter: @IPBES / / / /

IPBES side events at CBD COP14:

November 18th (Sunday): Presentations by the Co-chairs of the four IPBES Regional Assessment Reports issued in March, 2018 (one each for the Americas, Europe and Central Asia, Africa, Asia and the Pacific) and the Global Assessment Report on Land Degradation and Restoration.

November 19th (Monday): Launch of a message 'primer' detailing elements of the IPBES Global Assessment of Biodiversity, expected to be released in Paris in May 2019

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All news conferences and briefings will be available via live webcast or video on demand via the UN Biodiversity Conference official website: (available from 13 November 2018).

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