Global Biodiversity Framework Targets

Target 7. Pollution reduced, halving nutrient loss and pesticide risk

Reduce pollution risks and the negative impact of pollution from all sources, by 2030, to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, considering cumulative effects, including: reducing excess nutrients lost to the environment by at least half including through more efficient nutrient cycling and use; reducing the overall risk from pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals by at least half including through integrated pest management, based on science, taking into account food security and livelihoods; and also preventing, reducing, and working towards eliminating plastic pollution

Following are the guidance notes prepared by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) for Target 7

Pollution is one of the main direct drivers of biodiversity loss. Pollution can take various forms. However globally, pollution from nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals and plastics has been found to have particularly harmful impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services.  

The overall objective of this target is to reduce the risks and negative impacts from all types of pollution by 2030. The target has further components addressing specific pollution types that are known to have particularly harmful impacts on biodiversity globally, namely (1) excess nutrients (2) pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals and (3) plastic pollution. In the case of excess nutrients, and the risks from pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals, the target specifies a quantitative element; reduction by half. The target further identifies a number of elements that need to be taken into account when taking action towards this target:

  • Reduce pollution risks and negative impact of pollution  The target focuses on the risks and impacts of pollution rather than absolute amounts of pollutants, in terms of the different toxicity and/or hazards posed by different types pollutants. For example, some types of pesticides can be used in large quantities with relatively small impacts on the environment, while for others even limited use can have particularly detrimental impacts. A focus on risks and impacts rather than absolute amounts of pollution accounts for this distinction. 
  • From all sources – Pollution refers to contaminants that are introduced to the environment, resulting in instability or harm. Pollution can take numerous forms as a variety of chemical compounds, types of light and sound, and products can cause environmental damage depending on their properties and concentrations. All sources of pollution should be considered when taking action towards this target.
  • Levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services – The target further specifies that the risks and negative impacts of pollution should be brought to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services. Therefore, the target does not require that all pollutants be eliminated but does require that they are reduced to a point where they do not have a negative effect on biodiversity. The point at which pollution can be considered harmful depends on the type of pollutant considered as well as the biodiversity it is affecting. Different metrics may be needed for different types of pollution. 
  • Considering cumulative effects – Some types of pollution can accumulate in the environment or species (bioaccumulation) over time. Similarly, some types of pollution can interact in synergistic ways, augmenting their overall negative impacts. These compounding impacts of pollution need to be accounted for when taking action towards this target.
  • Reducing excess nutrients lost to the environment  Excess nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, is a globally significant type of pollution with impacts on biodiversity. For example as nitrogen and phosphorus are often limiting nutrients in ecosystems, when they are present in excessive quantities they can result in rapid plant growth or algal blooms in marine ecosystems, which can alter ecosystem composition and function. Common causes of excessive nutrients are sewage and agricultural runoff, including from the historic and ongoing application of fertilizers. The target specifically calls for excess nutrients lost to the environment to be reduced by half.
  • Risks from pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals  Pesticides are any substance, or mixture of substances, of chemical or biological ingredients intended for repelling, destroying or controlling unwanted live organisms that are harmful to human, crops, or animal health or to the environment, or that can cause damage to human activities. There are different definitions of highly hazardous chemicals but generally they are chemicals that pose a significant acute or chronic risk to the environment or people.  This target calls for the risks posed by pesticides and such chemicals to be reduced by half.
  • Integrated pest management – Integrated pest management is an ecosystem approach to crop production and protection that combines different management strategies and practices to grow healthy crops and minimize the use of pesticides.
  • Taking into account food security and livelihoods  Nutrients and pesticides are important inputs in many agricultural systems. Any actions to reduce the impacts of pollution from these sources should consider possible impacts on food security and livelihoods. Actions towards this target should be a part of wider sustainable agriculture and food systems transitions; include safeguards to achieve food security; and should not compete with priorities of farmers and those who rely on agri-food systems for their livelihoods, including small-holders, and indigenous peoples and local communities.
  • Preventing, reducing, and working towards eliminating plastic pollution – Plastic pollution is accumulating across terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems, with microplastics entering food chains and circulating in the atmosphere. It is increasingly regarded as an important type of pollution with significant impacts on biodiversity
  • Actions to reach Target 7 should take into account all of the considerations for implementation identified in section C of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework
  • Progress towards this target will help to reach Goal A of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. It will also help to reach targets 4 and 10. Conversely, progress towards  targets 11114161819202122 and 23 will help to reach this target.
  • Target 7 addresses issues previously considered under Aichi Biodiversity Target 8.
  • Elements of Target 7 are also addressed in the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, including targets 3.96.311.612.412.5 and 14.1.
  • Target 7 also links to other international processes addressing pollution, including the World Health Organization, the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions and the ongoing discussions under Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution. 
  • Which ecosystems are being affected by pollution? Which pollutants are they being affected by? How are they affecting biodiversity and ecosystem functioning? 
  • What are the main sources of pollution in the country? What are the point sources of pollution? What are the non-point sources? 
  • Which pollution control measures are already in place in the country? How effective have these been? How could their effectiveness be improved?
  • What are the main channels or opportunities for reducing pollution risks? What type of actions could be used? What programmes or initiatives could be further built on? 
  • What are the potential ecological, economic, and social opportunities and constraints in taking actions towards this target? Who are the actors that may be affected? How can they be involved, and their needs addressed? What are the trade-offs to consider?
  • What additional resources (financial, human and technical) will be required to reach the national target? How can additional resources be raised? What are possible sources? 

The monitoring framework for the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework identifies the following indicators for this target:

Headline indicators:

Component indicators

  • Fertilizer use
  • Proportion of domestic and industrial wastewater flow safely treated
  • Floating plastic debris density (by micro and macro plastics)
  • Red List Index (impact of pollution)

Complementary indicators

  • Trends in loss of reactive nitrogen to the environment
  • Trends in nitrogen deposition 
  • Municipal solid waste collected and managed 
  • Hazardous waste generation 
  • Trends in the amount of litter in the water column, including microplastics and on the seafloor 
  • Index of coastal eutrophication
  • Plastic debris density 
  • Red List of Ecosystems 
  • Underwater noise pollution 
  • Name, amount/volume/concentration of highly hazardous pesticides by type (per land/marine area) 
  • Pesticide use per area of cropland

Note from the Secretariat: This guidance material provides an overview of the target by briefly introducing key terms, highlighting some of the implications for national target setting, and providing key points and guiding questions for consideration as part of national target-setting exercises. It also identifies the adopted indicators to monitor progress and resources that could assist with national target setting and implementation. This material should be considered a work in progress, and it will be periodically updated with inputs from Parties and partner organizations in the light of experiences with its use. This information is meant to serve as a resource that Parties and others may wish to consider as they implement the Global Biodiversity Framework. It does not replace or qualify decision 15/4 or 15/5