The Global Species Action Plan

Supporting implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework through species conservation

The Global Species Action Plan (GSAP) has been developed to support implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) by setting out the key strategic interventions and actions required to achieve successful outcomes for the conservation and sustainable use of species in the GBF Mission, Goals, and Targets.

The GSAP is linked to an online toolkit of resources, training support, and technical guidance to assist governments and other stakeholders to conserve and manage native wild species effectively and to ensure they and their products are used sustainably, legally, and equitably.


Biodiversity is declining across the planet. The 2019 IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services revealed that vertebrate species populations have declined on average by 68% since 1970, 75% of Earth’s land surface has been significantly altered and 66% of the oceans are degraded. Globally, over a third of inland wetlands declined from 1970 to 2015, a rate three times that of forest loss. Around 25% of all species assessed on the IUCN Red List are threatened, suggesting that around 1 million species may already face extinction. The global rate of species extinction is already up to 100 times higher than the average background rate over the past 10 million years, suggesting that we are facing a ‘sixth mass extinction’. Urgent action is essential to reduce the drivers of biodiversity loss and restore species’ populations and ecosystems.

The three interlinked crises of biodiversity loss, climate change, and emerging zoonotic diseases have far-reaching consequences for all aspects of human health, food and water security, and the economy. Given the crucial role species play in the livelihoods and economies of people all over the world, and in the ecosystem services on which they depend, maintaining healthy populations of species and ensuring that the benefits from them are managed equitably and sustainably is essential to delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The fundamental importance of species

The millions of species on land, in freshwater, and in the oceans have evolved over millennia and form the web of life that sustains the planet. Conserving species is critical to the future of all life on earth:

  • Species are the living components of ecosystems, individually and collectively securing the conditions for life.
  • Species play critical roles in the processes of soil formation, organic matter decomposition, water filtration and flow, pollination, pest control, climate regulation, carbon sequestration and storage, and other vital ecosystem services.
  • Conservation of wild species, and the ecosystems in which they are critical components, is critical to addressing the climate crisis, food and water security, and reducing the risks of extreme weather events and emerging zoonoses and risks of global pandemics.
  • Species provide the primary source of food, medicine, raw materials and other resources for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) and hundreds of millions of other people around the world. One in five people rely on species for income and food and ~70% of the world’s poor are dependent on wild species.
  • Direct use of wild species forms the basis of fishing and forestry and other major economic sectors, and the wild relatives of crops and domestic livestock are a repository of irreplaceable genetic material with potential for future adaptation and therefore contribute significantly to food security, nutrition, and health.
  • Species are an essential part of the history, culture, and tradition of every society on Earth and their aesthetic values and spiritual roles provide comfort, inspiration, and cultural well-being.

Threats to species

The primary threats to species identified in the IPBES global assessment are conversion, degradation, and fragmentation of natural habitats, unsustainable use and trade; climate change, invasive alien species, pollution, and existing and emerging infectious diseases, all resulting from an array of underlying drivers. Erosion of genetic diversity is an additional, mainly unquantified threat, especially to very small and highly fragmented populations.

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The Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei), which has improved in status from Critically Endangered to Endangered thanks to collaborative conservation efforts across country boundaries with engagement from communities living around Mountain Gorilla habitat. Photo © Ludovic Hirlimann (CC BY 2.0)

Oak species© Greg Bluffin

Anacapa Island: Several oak species endemic to the Channel Islands of California and Mexico were severely threatened by non-native livestock (e.g. goats and pigs) and invasive plants throughout the 20th century. A group of partners successfully removed the feral livestock from several islands, allowing seedlings to establish for the first time in decades, as well as removing invasive plants and planning fire regime management. Hundreds of seedlings have now been planted, with high survival rates. Photo © Greg Bluffin

Conservation action and sustainable use

Many species have been saved from extinction or had their status improved, native species and ecosystems have recovered, and habitats have been restored and rewilded, due to effective conservation action. Recent decades have seen an impressive array of scientific innovation and technological advances – including in genetics, remote sensing, GIS mapping, camera trapping, satellite tracking, acoustics, statistical analyses, and modelling that improve our ability to monitor and conserve wild species and their habitats.

Experience has demonstrated clearly that addressing the threats and drivers of species declines at an early stage to conserve remaining populations, intact habitats and their connectivity is far more efficient and cost-effective than attempting to restore habitats and reintroduce species later, underlining the importance of timely interventions.

There is ample evidence that conservation action works. The challenge now is to massively scale up these efforts to eliminate the drivers of species declines, ensure the survival, recovery, and persistence at healthy levels of all native species, ensure that any use of species is legal, sustainable, and safe for target and non-target species, and that material benefits from use of species and from genetic resources are equitably shared.

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The Australian Trout Cod (Maccullochella macquariensis), which has improved status from Endangered to Vulnerable. Decades of conservation action have focused on establishing additional subpopulations through reintroductions and wild-to-wild translocations. Photo © Gunther Schmida (License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike)

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework was adopted at the CBD’s fifteenth Conference of the Parties in December 2022. The framework includes four outcome-oriented goals to be achieved by 2050, 23 action-oriented targets to be achieved by 2030, a monitoring framework for tracking progress towards the goals and targets, and guidance on implementation. The Conference of the Parties to CBD also adopted several important related decisions, in particular on resource mobilization, capacity-building, mechanism for planning, monitoring, reporting and review, technical and scientific cooperation, and digital sequence information on genetic resources. The Kunming-Montreal Framework sets out a pathway to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and put nature on the path of recovery, while ensuring the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the utilization of genetic resources, and providing means of implementation, in order to achieve the 2050 Vision whereby people live in harmony with nature. Enormous efforts and scaled-up action will be required to fully implement the Kunming-Montreal Framework and achieve the 2050 Vision.

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Wild gaur (Bos gaurus) gazing in Cat Tien National Park, Viet Nam. Photo © Nguyen Manh Hiep

The Global Species Action Plan

The GSAP has been developed in response to The Abu Dhabi Call for Global Species Conservation Action by IUCN with Members, and key partners, in consultation with the biodiversity-related conventions*. The GSAP aims to support effective implementation of the Kunming-Montreal GBF and to galvanize all governments and stakeholders to scale up actions for the conservation and sustainable use of species, to increase synergies, and to work in coordinated and cooperative ways. The GSAP is a living document with an initial timeline of 2030, in alignment with the GBF.

The GSAP sets out a list of key strategic interventions required to achieve successful outcomes for the conservation and sustainable use of species for the Kunming-Montreal GBF. This is supported by an indicative list of actions (see Actions) that can be applied by countries in accordance with their national capacity and circumstances. The Kunming-Montreal GBF goals and targets are all closely interlinked so the GSAP provides a species rationale and addresses species-relevant actions for each of the 23 global targets, though the primary focus of the GSAP remains on conservation and sustainable use of species, not on the GBF as a whole. Importantly, the GSAP does not require any separate reporting, additional to those required by existing CBD and other international environmental agreements.

The GSAP will be open access, and available to all on an online knowledge platform – Species Conservation Knowledge, Information, Learning, Leverage and Sharing (SKILLS), providing a toolkit of resources, training support and technical guidance to assist governments and other stakeholders to conserve and manage wild species effectively and to ensure their products are used sustainably, legally, and equitably.

* — the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Convention on Conservation of the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar), the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the World Heritage Convention (WHC), the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRWC) also known as the International Whaling Commission (IWC), and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)

Strategic interventions essential to conserving and sustainably using species and their habitats

  • Halt all further human-induced species extinctions
  • Significantly reduce all the key threats to species and the underlying drivers of decline
  • Develop targeted recovery programmes for all species that require them
  • Ensure conservation of all sites and site networks important for species through identification, establishment, protection, and effective management of all Key Biodiversity Areas, Protected and Conserved Areas, internationally recognized sites (World Heritage Sites, Ramsar Sites, Biosphere Reserves) and other areas of high ecological integrity
  • Ensure ecological connectivity, including species movement at land freshwater- and seascape scales
  • Maintain all intact areas of natural habitats and restore and rewild ecosystems, including reinforcement and reintroduction of their constituent species
  • Assess species’ vulnerability and adaptive capacity to climate change to inform scenario-planning and development of adaptation and dynamic management measures
  • Ensure that any use of species is sustainable, legal and safe for target and non-target species, and that the benefits from use and from genetic resources are equitably shared among indigenous and local people
  • Ensure animals and people are not threatened by zoonotic or vector borne diseases by reducing the nature-based drivers of disease risk
  • Ensure co-existence between humans and wildlife
  • Improve species conservation research and data management and analysis to inform policy making and implementation at all levels
  • Communicate the value of species and the importance of their conservation and sustainable use to all audiences


Delivery of the GSAP – and the Kunming-Montreal GBF as a whole – involves interventions taken at global, regional, national, and local levels. Establishing effective linkages and coordination between these levels, and maximum synergies between all actors, will be crucial to ensuring smooth transitions from global policy, through to assessment, planning, and effective action on the ground and in the water.

National governments and their partners will have a leading role in delivering species conservation outcomes through their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), national species conservation programmes, legislative frameworks, budgetary allocations, and other mechanisms. Actions at global and regional levels are also needed to formulate policies, strategies, standards, and guidelines, maintain open-access biodiversity databases, and address supranational threats.

The international community should be ready to provide necessary funding while the species conservation community can accelerate impact by providing technical support and sharing experience and expertise.

IUCN, its many Members that have collaborated closely in the development of the GSAP, its Species Survival Commission, specialist groups, and the Reverse the Red partnership, along with other Commissions, stand ready to provide technical support in collaboration with the biodiversity-related conventions and governments to implement the GSAP.

The roles of other stakeholder groups include

Ultimately the GSAP is an action plan for everyone – governments, intergovernmental organisations, the biodiversity-related conventions, international and national NGOs, academic and research institutes, ex-situ institutions (zoos, aquaria, botanic gardens), commercial and business sectors, funding agencies, the philanthropic community, and civil society as a whole: everyone has a part to play in addressing the species emergency and ensuring we pass on a rich natural heritage to future generations.

See the GSAP Actions and Rationales here


Interconnections between GBF Targets and Key Species Outcomes


Schematic diagram illustrating some of the interconnections between GBF Targets and Key species outcomes. Please see the GSAP book here