An insect pollinates a flower with blue skies in the background


Biodiversity encompasses all living matter and is critical for life on our planet. Human health and well-being depend on biodiversity, as do our food security and economic prosperity. Read about IISD's work on the issue.

Biodiversity (or biological diversity) is defined as the variability “within species, between species and of ecosystems,” according to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

But even though biodiversity is essential to our existence, it is declining at rates never seen before in human history. A 2019 report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the most comprehensive assessment of its kind, warned that 1,000,000 animal and plant species are threatened with extinction.

What drives biodiversity loss?

The IPBES report ranked five direct drivers, in descending order:

  1. Changes in land and sea use
  2. Direct exploitation of organisms
  3. Climate change
  4. Pollution 
  5. Invasive alien species