Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Strengthening Capacity to Manage Ecosystems Sustainably for Human Well-Being

MA releases second report: Biodiversity and Human Well–being

Launched today, the second Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report, Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Biodiversity Synthesis, synthesizes and integrates findings related to biological diversity from the four MA Working Groups: Conditions and Trends, Scenarios, Responses and Sub-global Assessments, in response to requests for information received through the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The report will be launched as part of the celebrations for International Day for Biological Diversity today in:

  • Montreal, Canada - the CBD Secretariat will hold a press conference followed by a reception and will co-sponsor, with McGill University, a seminar aiming at providing an in-depth discussion of the report and its relationship to science, and policy. More details are available here 
  • London & Cambridge, United Kingdom – UNEP will hold a press briefing on the findings of the Biodiversity Synthesis Report at the Royal Society, followed by a scientific seminar organized by UNEP-WCMC, and hosted at University of Cambridge. More details at
  • Beijing, China – State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) will hold a press conference highlighting the Chinese government’s efforts to protect biodiversity in the past 10 years. More details at

“Loss of biodiversity is a major barrier to achieving development goals, and poses increasing risks for future generations,” said Walter Reid, Director of the Millennium Assessment. “The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report shows that management tools, policies and technologies do exist to dramatically slow this loss.”

Hamdallah Zedan, Executive Secretary to the Convention on Biological Diversity, said that the report is of great value to all those concerned with the Convention on Biological Diversity and its objectives – the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and the equitable sharing of its benefits.

“The report’s findings remind us that biodiversity is a requirement for all life on the planet – it is life insurance for our changing world,” he said. “The report reminds us of the need for action now.” 

“I encourage all parties to the Convention to consider the report at the upcoming eleventh meeting of our scientific advisory body – SBSTTA - and prepare recommendations concerning its implications for the future work of the Convention, including the 2010 biodiversity target,” Zedan added.


The key findings in this report highlighted by the CBD are:

1.      In the last 50 years, human actions have changed the diversity of life on the planet more than at any other time in history. Our activities have lifted many people out of poverty, but at the price of a loss of biodiversity. If we continue down this road, we will reduce biological diversity, with life-threatening consequences.

2.      Biodiversity is the foundation for human well-being. Not only does it provide the materials we need for food, clothing and shelter, but also gives us security, health and freedom of choice. The current pace and rhythm of our activities are harming ecosystems, consuming biological resources and putting at risk the well-being of future generations.

3.      Human activities are leading to the loss of the variety of life. Population increase and economic activity, fuelled by technological change and our patterns of political and cultural life are placing undue pressure on ecosystems. Our actions are changing habitats, the climate, overexploiting resources, creating pollution and promoting the spread of invasive alien species. If current patterns continue, the loss of biodiversity will accelerate, not diminish.

4.      In the past, actions and programs that promoted conservation and the sustainable use of biological diversity limited biodiversity loss. This is promising, but we are not doing enough. To further reduce and stop the loss of biodiversity will require a whole host of new and stronger actions. Sustainable human development remains the primary goal and we need to strengthen the range and power of our ability to respond to biodiversity loss.

5.      The size of the task ahead of us is so great that the 2010 biodiversity target will only realistically be achieved in certain areas and regions if we engage in substantial efforts. This sobering conclusion is not hopeless. Humankind can choose to act now for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity if it changes the way it is causing change, carefully chooses the ways it responds to change and makes the right tradeoffs.

Biodiversity is defined by the MA as the variability among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part.

An assessment of the current state of knowledge, the material presented in this report and in the full MA aims to:

  •  provide an authoritative source of information,
  • mobilize knowledge and information to address specific policy questions,
  • clarify where there are areas of broad consensus within the scientific community and where important controversies remain, and
  • provide insights that emerge from a broad review of knowledge that might not be apparent in individual studies.


About the MA reports

The MA reports will include a total of seven synthesis and summary reports, and four technical volumes. An additional set of about 16 sub-global assessments will be released separately. More details

A series of seven synthesis reports are designed to meet the needs of the international conventions (Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the Convention on Migratory Species) and also designed to meet the needs of other stakeholders, including business, civil society, and indigenous peoples.

On March 30, 2005, the first synthesis report, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) Synthesis Report  and a statement by the MA board of directors entitled “Living beyond Our Means: Natural Assets and Human Well-being” were launched in London, Washington DC, Beijing, Brasilia, Cairo, Delhi, Lisbon, Rome, Stockholm and Tokyo.


About the MA

Involving some 1,360 of the world's leading experts, the MA is a partnership among several international organizations, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Convention on Migratory Species, five UN agencies (WHO, FAO, UNESCO, UNEP, UNDP), the World Bank, and IUCN. It is supported by 22 of the world’s leading scientific bodies, including The Royal Society of the U.K. and the Third World Academy of Sciences. 

The MA’s work is overseen by a 45-member board of directors, co-chaired by Dr. Robert Watson, Chief Scientist of The World Bank, and Dr. A. H. Zakri, Director of the United Nations University’s Institute of Advanced Studies. The multi-stakeholder board is composed of the international organizations plus government officials, the private sector, NGOs and indigenous peoples.

The Assessment Panel, which oversees the technical work of the MA, includes 13 of the world’s leading social and natural scientists. It is co-chaired by Ms. Angela Cropper of the Cropper Foundation, and Prof. Harold Mooney of Stanford University. Dr. Walter Reid is the Director of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

Major funding was provided by the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and The World Bank.  The MA Secretariat is coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).