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IPBES Invasive Alien Species Assessment

Context: The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has released its new publication – the “Assessment Report on Invasive Alien Species and their Control’’.

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  • The Assessment Report was approved in Bonn, Germany, by representatives of the 143 member States of IPBES.
  • It analyses the impact of alien species on biodiversity.
  • The study, which has taken place over a period of four years, has been done by 86 leading experts from 49 countries, drawing on more than 13,000 references.


  • It is an independent intergovernmental body established by States.
    • It was established in Panama City in April 2012 by 94 Governments.
  • It aims to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development.
  • It is not a United Nations body. However, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) provides secretariat services to IPBES.
  • HQ – Bonn, Germany
  • IPBES has produced several influential assessment reports, including the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in 2019.

Key Observations of the Report

  • Introduction of Alien Species:
    • There are 37,000 alien species, including plants and animals, that have been introduced by many human activities to regions and biomes around the world.
    • Of the 37,000 introduced alien species, more than 3,500 out pose major global threats to nature, economy, food security and human health.
  • Invasive Alien Species and Bio-diversity loss:
    • Invasive alien species (IAS) play a key role in 60% of global plant and animal extinctions, and cost humanity more than $400 billion a year.
    • These species are one of the five major direct drivers of biodiversity loss
      • The other four are land and sea use change, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change, and pollution.
    • Most negative impacts are reported on land (about 75%) – especially in forests, woodlands and cultivated areas – with considerably fewer reported in freshwater (14%) and marine (10%) habitats.
    • Invasive alien species are most damaging on islands, with numbers of alien plants now exceeding the number of native plants on more than 25% of all islands.
  • Unprecedented increase in number of alien species:
    • The alien species has been rising continuously for centuries in all regions.
    • However, these are now increasing at unprecedented rates, with increased human travel, trade and the expansion of the global economy.
    • The report warned that warming temperatures and climate change could favour the “expansion of invasive species’’.
  • Examples of invasive alien species
    • The water hyacinth is the world’s most widespread invasive alien species on land.
    • Lantana, a flowering shrub, and the black rat are the second and third most widespread globally.
    • The brown rat and the house mouse are also widespread invasive alien species.
  • The global economic cost of invasive alien species
    • The report said that the annual costs of invasive alien species have at least quadrupled every decade since 1970, as global trade and human travel increased.
    • In 2019, the global economic cost of invasive alien species exceeded $423 billion annually.
  • Not all alien invasive species have negative impacts
    • Not all alien species establish and spread with negative impacts on biodiversity, local ecosystems and species, but a significant proportion do – then becoming known as invasive alien species.
    • About 6% of alien plants; 22% of alien invertebrates; 14% of alien vertebrates; and 11% of alien microbes are known to be invasive, posing major risks to nature and to people.
    • Nearly 80% of the documented impacts of invasive species on nature’s contribution to people are negative.
  • Other impacts of invasive alien species
    • The reduction of food supply, has been cited by the report as the most common impact of alien invasive species.
    • For example,
      • the European shore crab impacting commercial shellfish beds in New England.
      • the Caribbean false mussel damaging locally important fishery resources in Kerala, by wiping out native clams and oysters.
      • The Caribbean false mussel was originally from the Atlantic and Pacific coast of South and Central America, but are believed to have travelled to India via ships.
    • Invasive alien species like Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegyptii spread diseases such as malaria, Zika and West Nile Fever.
    • Others also have an impact on livelihood such as the water hyacinth in Lake Victoria in East Africa led to the depletion of tilapia, impacting local fisheries.
    • Invasive alien species can also amplify the impacts of climate change.
      • For example, invasive alien plants, especially trees and grasses, can sometimes be highly flammable and promote more intense fires.
  • Response of countries
    • Most countries (80%) have included targets related to managing invasive alien species in their national biodiversity plans.
    • Only 17% specifically address the issue in national legislation. Nearly half of all countries (45%) do not invest in management of biological invasions.
    • In December 2022, governments agreed to reduce the rate of introduction and establishment of invasive alien species by at least 50% by 2030 under target 6 of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.


  • The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) is an outcome of the 2022 United Nations Biodiversity Conference.
  • The GBF was adopted by the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on 19 December 2022.
    • CBD is a legally binding treaty to conserve biodiversity that has been in force since 1993 and has been ratified by 196 nations.
    • It sets out guidelines for countries to protect biodiversity, ensure sustainable use, and promote fair and equitable benefit sharing.
  • GBF has been promoted as a “Paris Agreement for Nature”.


  • The GBF contains 4 Global Goals (“Kunming-Montreal Global Goals for 2050”) and 23 targets (“Kunming-Montreal 2030 Global Targets”).

Key Targets:

  • 30×30 Deal:
    • Restore 30% degraded ecosystems globally (on land and sea) by 2030
    • Conserve and manage 30% areas (terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine) by 2030
  • Stop the extinction of known species, and by 2050 reduce tenfold the extinction risk and rate of all species (including unknown)
  • Reduce risk from pesticides by at least 50% by 2030
  • Reduce nutrients lost to the environment by at least 50% by 2030
  • Reduce pollution risks and negative impacts of pollution from all sources by 2030 to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions.
  • Reduce global footprint of consumption by 2030, including through significantly reducing overconsumption and waste generation and halving food waste.
  • Sustainably manage areas under agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, and forestry and substantially increase agroecology and other biodiversity-friendly practices.
  • Tackle climate change through nature-based solutions
  • Reduce the rate of introduction and establishment of invasive alien species by at least 50% by 2030.
  • Secure the safe, legal and sustainable use and trade of wild species by 2030.
  • Green up urban spaces

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