Global Assessment report on state of nature offers irrefutable evidence of nature loss emphasising the urgent need for transformative change

Posted on 06 May 2019

Paris, France, 6 May 2019- The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ (IPBES) launched a landmark Global Assessment Report providing persuasive evidence on the rapid deterioration of nature and its contributions to people across the world. The report which overlaps with the G7 environment ministers meeting in Metz, Paris, is a wake up call to policy makers and businesses to take decisive action stressing on an urgent need for a new deal for nature and people by 2020.


The 1,800 page scientific study is the first comprehensive snapshot of the state of the world’s biodiversity since 2005 with evidence provided by 400 world’s leading experts from across 50 countries. Echoing many of the findings of WWF’s Living Planet Report published in 2018, it paints an alarming picture of species extinctions, wildlife population declines, habitat loss and depletion of ecosystem services crucial for our sustenance and economic development.


As per the findings of the IPBES report, human actions have significantly altered nature across the globe. Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered. More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production. Around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.

The report also offers a comprehensive study of the interlinkage between climate change and nature loss. Among the major contributors of ecosystem changes, human-driven climate change is identified among the key drivers exacerbating the impact of other drivers on nature and human wellbeing. Greenhouse gas emissions have doubled, raising average global temperatures by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius while the global average sea level has risen by 16 to 21 centimeters since 1900. These changes have contributed to widespread impacts in many aspects of biodiversity including species distributions.

"The Global Assessment report offers irrefutable evidence of not only the unprecedented decline of nature but its risks to human lives and prosperity. The need for urgent action hasn't been more clear. Business as usual is not an option anymore. The report offers hope for setting nature on path to recovery through transformative change by redefining our approach for a more sustainable future." said, Rebecca Shaw, Chief Scientist, WWF,


"The IPBES Global Assessment makes it clear that our society is 'in deep trouble' if we continue as usual. But more importantly, it also provides hope that positive change is indeed possible if everyone makes urgent commitments in the interest of future generations. Ours is the first generation with the tools to see how the Earth has been changed by people at our own peril. We’re also the last generation with the opportunity to influence the course of many of those changes.  Now is the time to act, not halfheartedly and incrementally but drastically and boldly." said Guenter Mitlacher, Director of International Biodiversity Policy, WWF Germany.


In addition to the IPBES global assessment report, almost 600 conservation champions from around the globe have also backed a ‘Call4Nature’ for global action to halt the decline in nature including renowned scientists, wildlife experts and public figures like wildlife campaigner Jane Goodall, television presenter Chris Packham, and French actress Juliette Binoche. The Call4Nature is an open letter initiated by WWF, underlining the urgent need for action by political leaders to stop the alarming disappearance of life on Earth.


Recently, WWF also launched "Into the Wild" Report in partnership with the French multinational AXA insurance, on the role of financial institutions in ''bankrupting” nature with recommendations on sustainable business practices. The "Into the Wild" Report aims to fill the current void between accurate and tailored nature-related data to enable financial institutions in developing investment strategies which do not negatively affect nature and its ecosystems.


Quotes from experts on key drivers of change listed in the IPBES Global Assessment Report:


Climate change

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Leader of WWF's global climate and energy practice, said

"Wherever we look, nature’s warning signs are flashing red. We are facing a climate and environmental crisis. The link between a stable climate system and the protection of biodiversity is unequivocal. The IPBES report clarifies that climate change is both key driver of and a growing threat to biodiversity degradation. A global temperature rise beyond 1.5°C will have even more catastrophic consequences on the delicate web of life on which nature and people depend.


We must urgently prioritise our planet’s well-being. We need to press our politicians for decisive action, at home and internationally, to forge a new deal for nature and people. "



Christo Fabricius, Global Wildlife Lead Scientist, WWF, said

"The science has never been stronger, the declining wildlife populations and their wild habitats are a clear indicator of the major impact of pressure we are exerting on our planet, eroding the very living fabric that sustains us all. However we also have a unique opportunity to redefine our approach. We need to re-focus on integrating the well-being of the communities, particularly those that live side by side with wildlife in landscapes rich in biodiversity in all conservation initiatives. This renewed approach requires broadening our focus to less charismatic species whose survival is critical to the health of our planet. We need a new deal for people and nature.”



Stuart Orr, Leader of WWF's Global Freshwater practice, said

"The link between a stable climate system and the conservation  of biodiversity is unequivocal. But even this study underplays the emergency facing rivers, wetlands and freshwater species – and how urgently we need to transform our management of the world’s priceless freshwater resources. Better governance and greater collective action, involving communities, corporates and cities, are critical. But the world also needs to start valuing water – and valuing healthy rivers for all the diverse benefits they provide people and nature."



John Tanzer, leader of WWF's global oceans practice, said

'‘This assessment should erase any lingering doubts that the ocean is under enormous pressure. From coral reefs to mangroves, fish and marine wildlife populations, the science tells us we’re rapidly eroding the natural assets l of our seas. The report also makes clear that human wellbeing relies on a healthy ocean which means the challenge we face is clear, as are the solutions. Coastal communities need much greater assistance to protect their most productive habitats, including coral reefs and mangroves. This will also build their resilience to climate change. We must stop unsustainably mining our ocean’s fisheries or face the prospect of increasingly lifeless seas. Governments must take on a much more ambitious and collaborative approach to protect and rebuild ocean wildlife populations and habitats from the coasts to the high seas. Investment in ocean conservation is a down payment on future human and economic health.’'



Joao Campari, Global Practice Leader, Food, said

"The IPBES Global Assessment Report is yet another clarion call for political, business, finance and community leaders to take action or risk the very future of our planet. It highlights not only the decline of wild biodiversity but also agrobiodiversity. We are maintaining fewer varieties of plants and animals in our food system, reducing our resilience against future climate change, pests and diseases, and thus our long-term food security."



Report summary available here

Video of Rebecca Shaw on IPBES Global Assessment Report

For more information please visit our website on IPBES report here

For further information and interview requests, please contact:
Kanika Kohli | WWF International I
A wild elephant in Myanmar
© Julia Thiemann/WWF Germany