A new report years in the making was issued today by 150 of the world's leading scientists, painting a grim picture of the state of the planet's lands, ocean, and wildlife. According to leaders of the Campaign for Nature, it underscores the urgent need for world leaders to commit to an ambitious global deal to protect nature and, therefore, life on Earth.
The global assessment from the UN-mandated Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) — a sibling organization of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — finds that the loss of nature and the resulting wildlife extinction crisis is even worse than previously understood.
"Nature faces a crisis with devastating consequences for human health and wellbeing," said Brian O'Donnell, director of the Campaign for Nature. "However, it's not too late to turn it around. To address the seriousness of the problem, governments must now commit to protecting at least 30 percent of the planet by 2030."
While nations have made some progress towards protecting critical natural areas—currently about 15 percent of land and 7 percent of the ocean—scientists agree that nowhere near enough progress has been made.
Among the report's recommendations, the experts call for more protected areas, such as parks, wildlife refuges, and indigenous protected areas, alongside a robust commitment to massively increase funding for conservation. The global assessment reinforces other recent warnings from scientists that governments must tackle the crisis in nature with the same urgency as climate change.
"If we care about other forms of life, if we care about the future of our children, if we care about a secure environment or achieving development targets, then there is only one path when it comes to the natural world: We need to secure what is left. We need to secure half of the planet by 2050 with an interim target of 30 percent by 2030," said Jonathan Baillie, executive vice president and chief scientist at the National Geographic Society. "To achieve these goals, then we must restore nature and drive innovation. Only then will we leave future generations a healthy and sustainable planet."
Nearly 100 groups around the world—including indigenous peoples, conservation organizations, and philanthropic foundations—have endorsed the goal of protecting at least 30 percent of the planet by 2030 to address the urgent threats of climate change, habitat loss, and species extinction.
The global assessment underlines the important contribution of indigenous and traditional knowledge in protecting nature if we are to be successful in safeguarding the planet. In particular, the report shows that indigenous peoples have historically done a better job of managing and preserving biodiversity than national governments. It also emphasizes that indigenous peoples manage or have tenure rights over significant areas of the world's biodiversity, including some 37 percent of the world's unprotected land that is still in a natural state.
"Engaging indigenous peoples and promoting indigenous led conservation are essential for success," said Francisco von Hildebrand, director of Gaia Amazonas Foundation, a Campaign for Nature partner. "Conservation led by indigenous peoples and local communities is one of the most effective ways to protect nature. Any global new deal for nature must reflect and include the voices, priorities, and vision of indigenous communities around the world."
"The health and prosperity of every person on our planet depends on our collective ability to better protect our lands, wildlife, and waters for future generations. To safeguard the water we drink, the clean air we breathe, and the natural systems upon which the global economy depends, we need to rapidly expand protected areas around the world," said Molly McUsic, president of the Wyss Foundation, a philanthropic organization that is investing more than $1 billion over the next decade to protect lands and ocean worldwide. "Success is achievable. But it will take governments—alongside the businesses, foundations, and NGOs—to commit the financial resources needed to safeguard nature."
"Today's report is definitive: Nature is in crisis and the time for action is now," concluded O'Donnell. "We need governments to address the primary threat to nature, habitat loss, and agree to protect 30 percent of the planet by 2030, and to finance it. There is no more time to lose. There is no such thing as a reset button for biodiversity loss. Extinct means lost forever."
About Campaign for Nature
The Campaign for Nature is a global effort to raise awareness of the threats facing our natural world and inspire world leaders to take action to protect it. Launched in October 2018, the Wyss Campaign for Nature, the National Geographic Society and a growing coalition of conservation advocates are calling on policymakers to commit to clear and ambitious targets at the Convention on Biological Diversity's Conference of the Parties in October 2020 to protect at least 30 percent of the planet by 2030.
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