Noth­ing nat­u­ral: stag­ger­ing hu­man im­pact

The Gulf Today - Time Out - - ENVIRONMENT - BY MEENA S. JA­NARD­HAN

Hu­man­ityandthe­way we feed, fuel and inanceour­so­ci­eties and economies is push­ing na­ture and the ser­vices that power and sus­tain us to the brink, ac­cord­ing to WWF’s Liv­ing Planet Re­port 2018. The re­port, re­leased re­cently, 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 re­deine how we value, pro­tect and re­store na­ture.

The Liv­ing Planet Re­port 2018 presents a com­pre­hen­sive over­view of the state of our nat­u­ral world, twenty years af­ter the flag­ship re­port was irst pub­lished. Through in­di­ca­tors, the re­port paints a sin­gu­lar dis­turb­ing pic­ture: hu­man ac­tiv­ity is push­ing the planet’s nat­u­ral sys­tems that sup­port life on earth to the edge.

• The Liv­ing Planet In­dex (LPI) in­di­cates that global pop­u­la­tions of ver­te­brate species have, on av­er­age, de­clined in size by 60 per cent in just over 40 years.

• The big­gest driv­ers of cur­rent bio­di­ver­sity loss are over­ex­ploita­tion and agri­cul­ture, both linked to con­tin­u­ally in­creas­ing hu­man con­sump­tion.

• Ru­n­away hu­man con­sump­tion is se­verely un­der­min­ing na­ture’s abil­ity to power and sus­tain our lives, so­ci­eties and economies: glob­ally, na­ture pro­vides ser­vices for hu­man­ity worth around $125 tril­lion a year.

• Given­thein­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween the health of na­ture, the well-be­ing of peo­ple and the fu­ture of our planet, the need is for the global com­mu­nity to unite for a global deal for na­ture and peo­ple to re­verse the trend of bio­di­ver­sity loss.

The LPI, which tracks trends in global wildlife abun­dance, in­di­cates that global pop­u­la­tions of ish, 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 iden­ti­ied 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. 20 per cent of theA­ma­zon 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.

While high­light­ing the ex­tent and im­pact of hu­man ac­tiv­ity on na­ture, the Liv­ing Planet Re­port 2018 also 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 $125 tril­lion a year, while also help­ing en­sure the sup­ply of fresh air, clean wa­ter, food, en­ergy, medicines and other prod­ucts and ma­te­ri­als.

The re­port speci­ically looks at the im­por­tance of pol­li­na­tors which are re­spon­si­ble for $ 235-577 bil­lion in crop pro­duc­tion per year, and how a chang­ing cli­mate, in­ten­sive agri­cul­tural prac­tices, in­va­sive species and emerg­ing dis­eases have im­pacted their abun­dance, di­ver­sity and health.


Ev­i­dence shows that the two agen­das - for the en­vi­ron­ment and hu­man de­vel­op­ment - must con­verge if we are to build a sus­tain­able fu­ture for all. The Liv­ing Planet Re­port 2018 high­lights the op­por­tu­nity the global com­mu­nity has to pro­tect and re­store na­ture lead­ing up to 2020, a crit­i­cal year when lead­ers are ex­pected to re­view the progress made on the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals, the Paris Agree­ment and the Con­ven­tion on Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity (CBD).

The re­port urges peo­ple, busi­nesses and gov­ern­ments to mo­bilise and de­liver on a com­pre­hen­sive frame­work agree­ment for na­ture and peo­ple un­der the CBD, 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.

Chap­ter 4 of the re­port is in­spired by a pa­per ti­tled ‘Aim­ing higher to bend the curve of bio­di­ver­sity loss’ which sug­gests a roadmap for the tar­gets, in­di­ca­tors and met­rics the 196 mem­ber states of the CBD could con­sider to de­liver an ur­gent, am­bi­tious and ef­fec­tive global agree­ment for na­ture, as the world did for cli­mate in Paris, when they meet at the 14th Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties to the CBD 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.


Liv­ing Planet Re­port 2018 is the twelfth edi­tion of WWF’s bi­en­nial lagship pub­li­ca­tion. The re­port in­cludes the lat­est in­d­ings mea­sured by the Liv­ing Planet In­dex track­ing 16,704 pop­u­la­tions of 4,005 ver­te­brate species from 1970 to 2014.

The Liv­ing Planet Re­port 2018 con­sists of con­tri­bu­tions from 59 au­thors from 26 dif­fer­ent in­sti­tu­tions work­ing in academia, pol­icy, in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment and con­ser­va­tion.

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