PROTECTING THE biological, ecological and genetic diversity that sustains life on Earth is the mission of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. But progress has been slow, to put it mildly. A list of 20 conservation targets, known as the Aichi targets, was drawn up in 2010, with a 2020 due date. In the event, not a single one of the goals was met in full (see chart).
保护维持地球生命的生物、生态和遗传多样性是《联合国生物多样性公约》（United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity）的使命。但说得客气点，它进展缓慢。2010 年制定的清单有 20 个保护目标，称为「爱知目标」，截止日期为 2020 年。到头来，没有一个目标完全实现（见图表）。
In 2020, IPBES (the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, a body created to bridge the gap between biodiversity science and policy) published a global appraisal of the state of biodiversity. Written by 145 experts from 50 countries who reviewed 15,000 research and government sources, it offered a sobering message.“The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever,”said Sir Robert Watson, chairman of IPBES.“We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”
2020 年，IPBES（生物多样性和生态系统服务政府间科学政策平台，一个旨在弥合生物多样性科学与政策之间差距的机构）发布了一份对生物多样性状况的全球评估。它由来自 50 个国家和地区的 145 名专家撰写，他们审查了 15,000 项研究和政府资料，给出了一个发人深省的讯息。「我们和所有其他物种依赖的生态系统的健康状况正在以前所未有的速度恶化，」IPBES 主席罗伯特・沃森爵士（Sir Robert Watson）说，「我们正在侵蚀我们的经济、生计、粮食安全、健康和生活质量的基础。」
According to the 2020 Living Planet Report, produced by WWF and the Zoological Society of London, two conservation and research groups, populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish shrank by 68% on average between 1970 and 2016. Two years earlier, it had found the decline to be 60% for the years spanning 1970 and 2014, suggesting that losses are accelerating. Human activity is thought to be causing species to disappear around 100 times faster than the natural background rate.
根据世界自然基金会和伦敦动物学会这两个保护和研究小组发布的《地球生命力报告 2020》（2020 Living Planet Report），哺乳动物、鸟类、两栖动物、爬行动物和鱼类的数量在 1970 年至 2016 年间平均减少了 68%。两年前，它发现在 1970 年至 2014 年间数量下降了 60%，这表明损失正在加速。人类活动被认为导致物种消失的速度比自然背景灭绝率快了 100 倍左右。
As this Technology Quarterly has shown, an explosion of technology, from nanopore DNA sequencing to global computer models, is expanding human understanding of ecosystems. Yet most biodiversity indicators are still heading in an alarming direction. How can advances in technology be coupled to the policy changes needed to reverse the decline? It will require three things.
正如本技术季刊已论述的那样，从纳米孔 DNA 测序到全球计算机模型的爆炸式技术增长正在拓展人类对生态系统的理解。然而，大多数生物多样性指标仍在朝着令人担忧的方向发展。技术进步怎样才能与扭转这种衰退所需的政策变化相结合？这将需要三件事。
The first step is to knit together the various monitoring systems in order to provide a clear picture of what is going on and what needs to be done. The siloed nature of ecological science, in which teams focus on a particular animal, plant or ecological niche, has created a patchwork of initiatives and data rather than a comprehensive, global approach. At the moment it is not even possible to draw up an accurate summary of the number, location and type of different sensors around the world, let alone the species they are monitoring. Wildlife Insights, an online global repository for camera traps, has logged thousands of cameras, but is constantly discovering more. One country recently informed it that it had another 1,000 sensors that had not yet been logged, for example. A survey due to be published later this year by WildLabs, a network of conservation-technology users, found that financing, co-ordination and capacity-building are critical to the development and adoption of conservation technology.
第一步是将各种监控系统结合在一起，以便清楚地了解正在发生的事和需要做的事。生态科学的孤立特性——团队专注于特定的动物、植物或生态位——创建了零碎的举措和数据，而不是综合性的全球方法。目前甚至无法准确总结世界各地不同传感器的数量、位置和类型，更不用说它们正在监测的物种了。野生动物观察（Wildlife Insights）是相机陷阱的在线全球存储库，已记录了数千个摄像头，但仍在不断发现更多。例如，一个国家最近向该平台报告称它还有另外 1000 个尚未记录的传感器。一项将于今年晚些时候由生态保护技术用户网络 WildLabs 发布的调查发现，融资、协调和能力建设对于保护技术的开发和采纳至关重要。
Shared practices, databases and platforms, such as Wildlife Insights, are starting to close the gap. In addition, says Tanya Berger-Wolf, a computer scientist and ecologist at Ohio State University, ecosystem-wide observation networks are needed to measure everything from the structure of a landscape and its climatic conditions, to the location and identity of animal species, and how they interact with each other and with human infrastructure.
共享实践、数据库以及像野生动物观察这样的平台开始弥合差距。此外，俄亥俄州立大学的计算机科学家和生态学家塔尼娅・伯格 - 沃尔夫（Tanya Berger-Wolf）说，需要覆盖整个生态系统的观测网络来测量一切，从景观结构及其气候条件，到动物物种的位置和身份，以及它们相互之间以及与人类基础设施之间如何互动。
The second step is to create more powerful and detailed ecosystem models, so that they can be used to develop and analyse policy changes, for example on land use, fishing rights, farming practices and regulation of pollutants. Computer simulations have been instrumental in deepening the understanding of climate change, projecting future impacts, building public and political awareness, and designing policies. Global ecosystem models are decades behind by comparison. Better models would let policymakers set more specific and effective targets. The 2010 Aichi list was hopelessly detailed in its breakdown of what needed to be done, while remaining vague and qualitative about how targets should be met. Governments are now negotiating a new list, which is due to be signed off at an intergovernmental summit scheduled to take place in October 2021, setting goals for 2030 and 2050. Simple, quantifiable targets and clear methods for measuring success, as exist for climate change, are urgently needed.
第二步是创建更强大和更详细的生态系统模型，让它们可用于制定和分析政策变化，例如土地使用、捕鱼权、耕作方式和污染物监管。计算机模拟已经显著加深了人们对气候变化的理解，帮助人们预测未来的影响，建立公众和政治意识以及设计政策。相比之下，全球生态系统模型落后了几十年。更好的模型将让决策者设定更具体而有效的目标。2010 年的「爱知清单」对于需要完成的工作的分类巨细靡遗，对于如何实现目标却含糊其辞大而化之。各国政府现在正在谈判一份定于今年 10 月举行的政府间峰会上签署的新清单，以设定 2030 年和 2050 年的目标。我们亟需像在气候变化方面已经存在的简单、可量化的目标和衡量成功的明确方法。
Third, once monitoring systems, models and policies are in place, technology can help assess and enforce those policies, and make the case for adjusting or extending them as appropriate. If marine protected areas are expanded, for example, ecosystem monitoring can both measure the impact on fish stocks, and keep an eye out for unauthorised fishing boats.
All this will require funding for monitoring and enforcement. And at the moment, most technology for conservation is developed in rich countries, while most biodiversity is concentrated far away in poorer ones. Even when American or European kit makes it into the hands of researchers, park rangers or land managers, maintenance is a problem. More training, and greater use of open-source platforms that put knowledge in the hands of people on the ground, can help. But ultimately there will need to be broader mechanisms for richer countries to assist poorer ones.
Many of the necessary policies will overlap with those needed to address climate change. But not all of them. Understanding how ecosystems are changing, and measuring the impact and effectiveness of interventions, will be critical to conserving biodiversity. Technology cannot solve the problem on its own. But it is hard to imagine how the problem can be solved without it.