WWF Findings on Biodiversity

Anna Triponel

October 14, 2022
Our key takeaway: In its latest report, which delves into 32,000 species populations (mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians), WWF shows us how mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians are responding to pressures in their environment. The answer is: the figures speak for themselves. We have seen a decrease of 69% of wildlife populations in the past 50 years (between 1970 and 2018). WWF rings the alarm bell: “Code red for the planet (and humanity).” We have absolutely no time to waste to start to tackle the loss of biodiversity, especially since nature’s decline is intrinsically linked with climate change. The ‘nature positive by 2030’ goal is more critical than ever, as is a whole-of-society approach to achieve the transformational change needed.

WWF has published its Living Planet Report 2022 (October 2022) which “is WWF’s most comprehensive study to date of trends in global biodiversity and the health of our planet”:

  • “Code red for the planet (and humanity)”: WWF uses its ‘Living Planet Index’ to track trends in the abundance of mammals, fish, reptiles, birds and amphibians around the world. The index “shows an average 69% decrease in monitored wildlife populations between 1970 and 2018.” WWF states that: “The message is clear and the lights are flashing red. Our most comprehensive report ever on the state of global vertebrate wildlife populations presents terrifying figures: a shocking two-thirds decline in the global Living Planet Index less than 50 years.” Latin America is in the worst situation: “the greatest regional decline in average population abundance (94%)” and population trends for “freshwater species are also falling steeply (83%).” 
  • Double, interlinked emergencies: “Today we face the double, interlinked emergencies of human-induced climate change and the loss of biodiversity, threatening the well-being of current and future generations. As our future is critically dependent on biodiversity and a stable climate, it is essential that we understand how nature’s decline and climate change are connected.” “And this comes at a time when we are finally beginning to understand the deepening impacts of the interlinked climate and nature crises, and the fundamental role biodiversity plays in maintaining the health, productivity and stability of the many natural systems we and all life on Earth depend on.” In other words, WWF emphasizes that “[w]e are living through climate and biodiversity crises; these are not separate from each other but are two sides of the same coin.” The report pinpoints land-use change as “still the most important driver of biodiversity loss” and, “[u]nless we limit warming to 1.5°C, climate change is likely to become the dominant cause of biodiversity loss in the coming decades.”
  • “A global goal for nature: nature positive”: “We know what’s happening, we know the risks and we know the solutions. What we urgently need now is a plan that unites the world in dealing with this existential challenge. A plan that is agreed globally and implemented locally. A plan that clearly sets a measurable and time-bound global goal for nature as the 2015 Paris accord, with the net-zero emissions goal by 2050, did for climate. But what can be the ‘net-zero emissions’ equivalent for biodiversity?” The authors talk about the need for “the same shared global goal, inspiring a whole-of-society approach” and “transformational change – game-changing shifts” which “will be essential to bring theory into practice.” The requisite ‘nature positive by 2030’ goal “will disrupt the sectors that are drivers of nature loss – agriculture, fishing, forestry, infrastructure and extractives – driving innovation and acceleration towards sustainable production and consumption behaviours.” The report delves into the requisite actions to “bend the curve of biodiversity loss at scale”, emphasising that “[i]n addressing these complex, interlinked challenges there is no one-size-fits-all solution.”

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