Unbridled consumption has decimated global wildlife, triggered a mass extinction and exhausted Earth's capacity to accommodate humanity's expanding appetites, the conservation group WWF warned Tuesday.
The WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018, released today, presents a sobering 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.
The WWF's biennial report, which tracks trends in global wildlife abundance, indicates that the global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined, on average, by 60 per cent between 1970 and 2014, the most recent year with available data. The top threats to species identified in the report are directly linked to human activities, including habitat loss and degradation and overexploitation of wildlife.
Over recent decades, human activity has also severely impacted the habitats and natural resources wildlife and humanity depend on such as oceans, forests, coral reefs, wetlands and mangroves. At least 20 per cent of the Amazon has disappeared in just 50 years while the earth is estimated to have lost about half of its shallow water corals in the past 30 years, the report claimed.
"From rivers and rainforests, to mangroves and mountainsides, across the planet our work shows that wildlife abundance has declined dramatically since 1970. The statistics are scary, but all hope is not lost. We have an opportunity to design a new path forward that allows us to co-exist sustainably with the wildlife we depend upon. Our report sets out an ambitious agenda for change. We are going to need your help to achieve it," said Prof Ken Norris, Director of Science at ZSL (Zoological Society of London).
While highlighting the extent and impact of human activity on nature, the report focuses on the importance and value of nature to people’s health and well-being and that of our societies and economies. Globally, nature provides services worth around US$125 trillion a year, while also helping ensure the supply of fresh air, clean water, food, energy, medicines and other products and materials, it said.
"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 and wild places 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.
Through the report, the global wildlife protection organisation, sought to call on international leaders to mobilize and deliver on a comprehensive framework agreement for nature and people under the Convention on Biological Diversity, 'one that galvanizes public and private action to protect and restore global biodiversity and nature and bend the curve on the devastating trends highlighted in the Living Planet Report 2018'.
The 14th Conference of the Parties to the CBD are due to meet in Egypt in November 2018. The CBD CoP14 will bring together world leaders, businesses and civil society to develop the post-2020 framework for action for global biodiversity and thus marks a milestone moment to set the groundwork for an urgently needed global deal for nature and people.