The objective of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is to provide Governments, the private sector, and civil society with scientifically credible and independent up-to-date assessments of available knowledge to make informed decisions at the local, regional and international levels.

This regional and subregional assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services for the Americas has been carried out by 104 selected experts including 6 early career fellows, assisted by 76 contributing authors, primarily from the Americas, who have analyzed a large body of knowledge, including about 4,100 scientific publications. The Report represents the state of knowledge on the Americas region and subregions. Its chapters and their executive summaries were accepted, and its summary for policymakers was approved, by the Member States of IPBES at the sixth session of the IPBES Plenary (18 to 24 March 2018, Medellín, Colombia).

This Report provides a critical assessment of the full range of issues facing decision-makers, including the importance, status, trends and threats to biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people, as well as policy and management response options. Establishing the underlying causes of the loss of biodiversity and of nature’s contributions to people provides policymakers with the information needed to develop appropriate response options, technologies, policies, financial incentives and behavior changes. It should be noted that Greenland as well as the Arctic and subArctic regions were inadequately assessed due to a lack of relevant expertise.

The Assessment concludes that the Americas are endowed with much greater capacity for nature to contribute to people’s quality of life than the global average, and that the economic value of the terrestrial contributions of nature to people is estimated to be at least $24.3 trillion per year, equivalent to the region’s gross domestic product. The Assessment also concludes that while many aspects of the quality of life are improving at regional and subregional scales, the majority of the countries in the Americas are using nature at a rate that exceeds nature’s ability to renew the contributions it makes to the quality of life. The Report further assesses the status of food, water and energy security. It concludes that while agricultural production, fisheries and aquaculture continue to increase, this is, in some cases, at the expense of other important aspects of nature’s contributions to people; that there is declining per capita water supply and widespread unsustainable use of surface and groundwater in many parts of the region; and that bioenergy production may compete with food production and natural vegetation, and may have adverse social, economic and ecological consequences.

The Assessment also found that biodiversity and ecosystem conditions in the Americas are declining, resulting in a reduction of the contributions of nature to the quality of life of people. Indeed, nearly one quarter of species comprehensively assessed are classified by IUCN as being at high risk of extinction. The indirect drivers of change include population and demographic trends, economic growth and weak governance systems and inequity, while the dominant direct drivers include habitat conversion, fragmentation and overexploitation/overharvesting. Climate change is recognized as becoming increasingly important, amplifying the other direct drivers.