Nothing natural: staggering human impact
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.
UNDERMINING NATURE’S ABILITY
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.
FOR 2020 AND BEYOND
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.