Unsustainable human activity is pushing the planet’s natural systems that support life on earth to the edge, with the world’s wild animal population plummeting by 60 percent in the past 40 years and no end in sight without a new global deal for nature and people, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned.
The WWF this week launched its The Living Planet Report 2018, a comprehensive study that has been tracking the state of global biodiversity and the health of the planet since it was first launched in 1998. And it’s not good news.
Director General of WWF International Marco Lambertini says the report showed the urgent need for a new global deal for nature and people with clear, ambitious goals, targets and metrics to reverse the devastating trend of biodiversity loss currently impacting the planet we all call home.
Lambertini says he passionately believes we find ourselves on the cusp of a truly historic transformation.
“One the one hand, we have known for many years that we are driving the planet to the brink. The astonishing decline in wildlife populations shown by the latest Living Planet Index – a 60 percent fall in just over 40 years – is a grim reminder and perhaps the ultimate indicator of the pressure we exert on the planet.
“On the other hand, science has never been clearer about the consequences of our impact.
“The nature conservation agenda is not only about securing the future of tigers, pandas, whales and all the amazing diversity of life we love and cherish on earth. It is bigger than that.
“There cannot be a healthy, happy and prosperous future for people on a planet with a destabilising climate, depleted oceans and rivers, degraded land and empty forests, all stripped of biodiversity – the web of life that sustains us all.
“In the next years, we need to urgently transition to a net carbon-neutral society and halt and reverse nature loss through green finance, clean energy targets and metrics to reverse the devastating trend of biodiversity loss,” he said.
More than 50 experts from academic, policy, international development and conservations organisations have contributed to this year’s Living Planet Report.
Lambertini said this growing collective voice was crucial if we were to reverse the trend of biodiversity loss.
“The extinction of a multitude of species on Earth seems not to have captured the imagination or attention of the world’s leaders to catalyse the change necessary.
“It is clear that efforts to stave off the loss of biodiversity have not worked and business as usual will not amount to, at best, a continued managed decline.
“That’s why we, along with conservation and science colleagues around the world, are calling for the most ambitious international agreement yet – a new global deal for nature and people – to bend the curve of biodiversity loss,” he said.
The 2018 Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released found that only a quarter of land on Earth was substantively free of human activities.
By 2050, this fraction was projected to decline to just a tenth. Wetlands are the most impacted category, having lost 87 percent of their extent in the modern era.