Biodiversity is essential for sustainable development and human well-being. It underpins the provision of food, fibre and water; it mitigates and provides resilience to climate change; it supports human health, and provides jobs in agriculture, fisheries, forestry and many other sectors. Without effective measures to conserve biodiversity and use its components in a sustainable manner, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will not be achievable.
Biodiversity—the diversity of life on Earth—is defined as the variability among living organisms from all sources, including diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems. Biodiversity thus includes not only the millions of different species on Earth, it also consists of the specific genetic variations and traits within species (such as different crop varieties), as well as the various types of different ecosystems, marine and terrestrial, in which human societies live and on which they depend, such as coastal areas, forests, wetlands, grasslands, mountains and deserts.
Given the need for biodiversity and healthy ecosystems to achieve the 2030 Agenda, it is not surprising that 14 of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include targets that directly reflect their important role.1 For example, there are critical biodiversity dependencies for SDG 2 on zero hunger, including Target 2.4 relating to maintaining ecosystems and improvement of land and soil quality, and Target 2.5 on maintaining the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their wild species. Similarly, for SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth, biodiversity and healthy ecosystems are reflected in Target 8.4 on decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation and Target 8.9 relating to sustainable tourism.
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Biodiversity in general terms deals with biological and geographical units such as genes, species, ecosystems at different levels of scale up to biogeographic regions.There are many different definitions of biodiversity among which the one used under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is one of the most frequently cited:
” Biological diversity means the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems .”
This definition was adopted in the formulation of Zambia’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). Biodiversity can therefore be considered at ecosystem, species and gene levels. Much of the work on biodiversity in Zambia is at species level and to a limited extent on ecosystems.
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