Humanity and the way we feed, fuel and finance our societies and economies is pushing nature and the services that power and sustain us to the brink, according to WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018 (LPR 2018). The report, presents a picture of the impact of human activity on the world’s wildlife, forests, oceans, rivers and climate, underlining the rapidly closing window for action and the urgent need for the global community to collectively rethink and redefine how we value, protect and restore nature.
“Science is showing us the harsh reality our forests, oceans and rivers are enduring at our hands. Inch by inch and species by species, shrinking wildlife numbers are an indicator of the tremendous impact and pressure we are exerting on the planet, undermining the very living fabric that sustains us all: nature and biodiversity,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International.
According to the LPR 2018, nature provides us with economic services and benefits worth 125 Trillion USD every year. Yet, both nature and biodiversity are disappearing at an alarming rate. The Living Planet Index (LPI) shows that populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have fallen by an average of 60% between 1970–2014, while the Freshwater Living Planet Index records an 83% decline in freshwater species in the same time period, equivalent to 4% per year since 1970. The most significant decline has been seen in tropical rainforests and in rivers, lakes and wetlands around the world. The report further goes on to identify the two key drivers of biodiversity loss – over exploitation of resources and agriculture, attributing 75% of species loss since 1500AD to these two factors. The increased demand for energy, land and water over the past 50 years has also increased our global ecological footprint (one measure of our consumption of natural resources) by over 190%.
“We are living in an age where our continuous need for increased consumption is driving us into an era the scientists are calling the Anthropocene – where, for the first time ever, humanity is shaping the future of the planet. It is important to remember that nature forms the crux of modern human society and our economic activities ultimately depend on the resources that the planet provides. It is time that we look beyond business as usual scenarios and galvanize collective action for positive change, allowing the planet an opportunity to revive itself”, said Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO, WWF-India.
Despite numerous international scientific studies and policy agreements confirming that the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity is a global priority, worldwide trends in biodiversity continue to decline. What is needed to change this is bold and well-defined goals and a credible set of actions. As the world looks toward the promise of 2020 – a year that will see global leaders coming together on climate, biodiversity and sustainable development – governments, communities, businesses and organizations must come together to deliver a comprehensive framework agreement for nature and people under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Globally, WWF is taking the window of opportunity between now to 2020 (when the Aichi targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Environmental Goals of the 2030 Agenda culminate and a new comprehensive framework for the future is set) to shape a positive vision for nature and for the planet by collaborating with a consortium of almost 40 universities, conservation organizations and intergovernmental organizations to launch the research initiative: “Bending the Curve of Biodiversity Loss”. Together, we must mobilize public and private actors to show greater action and ambition to reverse the devastating trend of biodiversity loss.