Nature is collapsing around us, concludes a new scientific assessment of the state of the planet. As many as 1 million species are threatened with extinction as a result of human behavior, and the pace of those losses is accelerating. All is not lost, however. There is time to avoid the grim future that the report projects — if governments around the world honor their commitments to sustainable development. That is, as always, easier said than done.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a group of 132 member countries (Japan among them), has produced the first report on “the state of nature.” The report, officially titled the IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, was three years in the making. It was compiled by 145 experts from 50 countries, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors. Based on a systematic review of some 15,000 scientific and government sources, it also is the first such study to include substantial indigenous and local knowledge.

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