Wildlife numbers are down 69% - here's how we can solve this crisis

Wildlife numbers are down 69% – here’s how we can solve this crisis

This summer has been the hottest on record in Europe, with scorching heat waves and wildfires accelerating emissions to a 15-year high. Kenya is suffering its worst drought in over 40 years while Pakistan grapples with devastating floods, killing thousands and displacing millions.

Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has reached its highest level in six years and tropical storms are battering the Caribbean. The overconsumption of rich countries is hurting the most vulnerable people on the planet and nature is at a critical point.

Unfortunately, this trend extends to the animal kingdom. Released on Thursday, WWF’s Living Planet report shows a shocking drop in monitored wildlife populations across the world – an average of 69% less than one life. Populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish are all declining.

The world’s tropical regions – among the most biodiverse places on earth – are seeing the populations of their species plummet, with an average drop of 94% in Latin America and the Caribbean since 1970. Over the same period, wildlife populations in Africa have fallen by 66%. percent, while Asia-Pacific saw a 55 percent drop.

Meanwhile, freshwater populations have seen an average decline of 83 percent. Our rivers, lakes and wetlands – the cornerstone of any human society – are dying. The health of these freshwater ecosystems is essential for one in 10 animals, but also for the eight billion humans who depend on them for everything from agriculture and industry to the water we drink.

These shocking falls are symptomatic of the current global neglect of biodiversity. Already it is predicted that even if we limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), large parts of the Amazon and Africa could lose between half and three quarters (PDF ) of their biodiversity.

Yet such a catastrophic prospect would affect us all, from our social stability to our individual well-being and health. It also undermines the basic human rights of those who suffer disproportionately in the Global South.

It even affects us economically: WWF’s Global Futures study estimated that the decline of natural assets will cost the world at least $406 billion a year, or nearly $9 trillion by 2050, or roughly equal to the combined economies of the UK, France, India and Brazil.

Although governments are signaling that they are putting nature first, we currently see a lack of high-level political support and leadership to tackle the biodiversity crisis. An impressive 40,000 people, including 120 world leaders, attended the 26th session of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP 26) in Glasgow last year, with significant promises made. Yet, as the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties on Biodiversity (COP 15) approaches in December, countries like Brazil continue to destroy natural habitats.

We need countries to come together to reach an ambitious biodiversity deal next December. It must be able to lead an immediate action on the ground. To ensure a healthy and sustainable future for people and wildlife, this must include an overarching goal of securing a nature-friendly world by 2030 – meaning we end the decade with more nature than in 2020, Not less.

The question of who bears the responsibility to pay for the international protection of biodiversity is also important. The consumption habits of rich countries disproportionately lead to the loss of nature, so the world’s richest nations have a duty to provide financial support to developing countries.

Our economies must be transformed so that natural resources and nature’s services, such as clean air and water, climate regulation or food pollination, are properly valued. Our societies and industries must also move towards sustainable production and consumption patterns, particularly in terms of food.

One of the most magnificent things in nature is its ability to regenerate. It bounces back if we let it.

Some losses seem irreversible. The ship sturgeon, for example, was recently declared extinct in the European Danube. However, we have the solutions to reverse the loss of biodiversity and the science and technology to help many other endangered species, whether it is the mountain gorilla, the loggerhead turtle or the common crane, to thrive in new.

We can see where deforestation is happening in real time through satellites, can predict which areas are most important to conserve, and can use modeling to ensure the most effective conservation efforts are pursued.

A safer and more sustainable future for people and nature is always within reach, as long as political leaders and businesses step up to build a nature-friendly society for all.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.

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