WWF report highlights need for new deal on nature and people
Clear-cut evidence of how our current way of life is causing an accelerating decline in our natural world has been revealed in WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018. The report shows that the continually increasing human consumption is pushing the natural systems that support life on Earth to the edge. While nature provides us with the essentials of life such as the air we breathe and the water we drink, the report also highlights its economic importance − quantifying the services it provides at around US$125 trillion a year. Urgent global action is needed so WWF is seeking a new deal for nature and people, similar to the current global commitments on tackling climate change. In the coming two years, we will be working to create a global movement for change that will help set our planet on a sustainable path in the coming decade.
New gold standard for financing a sustainable ocean economy
A new approach to ensuring investment in coastal and ocean economic development is sustainable has been launched by WWF and partners. The Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles, which demonstrate how profitability can go hand-in-hand with considering social and environmental issues, will bring sustainability into the boardrooms of all ocean-based industries. The Principles will become part of a new sustainable blue economy finance initiative to be introduced next year through the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative − a long-established partnership between the UN and the financial sector that promotes sustainable finance. “Without the guidance that the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles provide, there is a risk that poorly-directed investment could lead to unsustainable marine and coastal development, further eroding ocean health and the resource base on which our well-being depends,” said Pavan Sukhdev, President of WWF International. The principles, which were developed by WWF, the European Commission, World Resources Institute (WRI), and European Investment Bank, have already been endorsed by a growing number of financial institutions.
New recognition for cities that protect wetlands
The important role cities can play in protecting wetlands has been highlighted in a new accreditation scheme from the global Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Eighteen cities from seven countries – China, France, Hungary, Madagascar, the Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka and Tunisia – were recognized for their efforts to promote the conservation of wetlands and showcase the benefits they offer local people. “These pioneer cities have taken exceptional steps to safeguard their urban wetlands and will inspire others towards sustainable urbanization,” said Martha Rojas Urrego, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention. WWF played a major role in the creation of the scheme and has also signed an agreement with one of the accredited cities, Changde in China. We will help the city to protect and restore wetlands around West Dongting Lake, itself a protected wetland since 2002.
Read more: Ramsar announces first 18 wetland cities
Read more: WWF and Changde city to work together to protect wetlands
New report reinforces need for global climate action
WWF has long called for the increase in global temperatures to be limited to no more than 1.5 °C as a vital step towards avoiding dangerous climate change. And so we welcome a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading authority on assessing climate change, which backs this up. The report makes clear that allowing global temperatures to rise by 2°C above pre-industrial levels would be devastating for people and nature – increasing the risks of natural disaster, lower economic growth, lower food yields and increased impacts on species and habitats. Meanwhile, governments’ existing pledges under the Paris climate agreement are not enough to limit warming to 2°C, much less 1.5°C. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF’s global Climate and Energy Practice, said: “Governments must heed the science to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Limiting warming to 1.5°C is possible, necessary and urgent.”
Cambodia establishes two new wildlife sanctuaries
WWF welcomes the Cambodian government’s creation of two protected areas – the Sambo and Prasob Protected Wildlife Sanctuaries, which cover 50,093 hectares and 12,770 hectares respectively. These biodiversity-rich areas, the rivers and forests of which are vital sources of income and resources for local communities, contain some of the country’s most intact habitats. Surveys have identified a variety of wildlife including 683 plant species, 223 native fish species and 56 amphibian and reptile species, including the Cantor’s giant softshell turtle, the world largest freshwater turtle. Woolly-necked stork, white-shouldered ibis, hog deer, Eld’s deer and silvered leaf monkey are among the 15 bird and 11 large mammal species also found in the area. WWF is working with the Cambodian authorities and others to ensure the sanctuaries are managed effectively.
Tortoise traffickers imprisoned in Madagascar
Madagascar has seen a major victory for our efforts to challenge the illegal wildlife trade that threatens many species. Three traffickers, arrested in April 2018 with 10,072 radiated tortoises, have been sentenced to six years’ imprisonment and a fine of Ariary 100 million (about US$28,000) each. Damages and costs were also awarded against them. The extremely long-lived radiated tortoise is critically endangered due to habitat loss and poaching for food and the pet trade. WWF and other NGOs congratulated the Malagasy justice system for the courage and determination it has shown throughout this investigation and trial. This judgment marks a crucial step in the fight against the wildlife trafficking in Madagascar and will hopefully act as a deterrent to others. We work globally with law enforcement agencies and NGOs such as TRAFFIC to challenge both the consumers and suppliers who support this illegal business.
Consumer campaign tackles ivory demand
A new WWF campaign has helped to tackle the poaching crisis that kills more than 20,000 elephants a year. Chinese consumers have been a major driver of demand for ivory products – and despite the welcome introduction at the end of 2017 of a domestic ban by China on selling and buying ivory, surveys tell us that people continue to buy ivory products when they travel abroad. Our #TravelIvoryFree campaign therefore focused on Chinese travellers to Thailand and Vietnam, where there are still ivory markets, during the world’s busiest travel period, the Lunar New Year. We achieved 57 million views on Chinese microblogging website SINA Weibo and 20 million views through the #TravelIvoryFree hashtag. Our pop-up market in Bangkok helped by encouraging people to buy alternative, sustainable souvenirs that are locally crafted. And two airlines flying from China also joined in the campaign. These efforts are part of a joint campaign with other NGOs, the travel industry and government agencies to change travellers’ behaviour.
Success for Turkish clean air campaign
WWF and partners in Turkey have successfully prevented coal-fired power plants from continuing to operate without the introduction of environmental safeguards. The Right to Clean Air Platform, a coalition of 17 professional and civil society organizations including WWF-Turkey, has been working together since 2015 to tackle air pollution and the threat it poses to people’s health. Last month’s proposal in the Turkish Parliament would have meant that coal-fired power plants could delay investing in environmental facilities until the end of 2021. The coalition responded quickly, organizing a petition that gathered support from 70,000 people in less than a week. Awareness of the issue was also raised through social media campaigning, highlighting the issue with media outlets, and advocacy with MPs in the Turkish Parliament.
Myanmar and Zambia, like many other countries, urgently need to increase investment in sustainable projects to improve water security, enhance the health of their river basins, and support economic growth. But they both face a major stumbling block: a lack of viable, sustainable and bankable water projects for companies and financial institutions to invest in. Our new agreement with the Dutch Development Bank sets out to tackle this head-on by providing us with seed funding to develop wastewater treatment projects in both countries. In Myanmar, the funding will promote green technologies for industrial wastewater treatment − and identify innovative investment options to improve wastewater treatment and reduce pollutant discharges into the Irrawaddy river basin. In Zambia, the bank will invest in similar efforts in the Kafue river basin, which provides most of the water for Zambia’s capital Lusaka, much of the country’s electricity and sustains the livelihoods of huge numbers of people in rural and urban communities.
Water crises, ranging from droughts to floods, pose a growing risk to people and nature. Tackling this is a global priority for WWF, and so we are delighted to announce a major upgrade to our online water risk tool for companies and financial institutions. The Water Risk Filter continues to be a trusted tool for assessing water risk but now links assessment results to a set of recommended responses. Aligned to leading water stewardship agreements, over 150 actions are available to help address the diverse physical, regulatory and reputational risks. Fifty of these responses are freely accessible online, while users can get even more comprehensive and tailored recommendations and access 100+ other response options by contacting the Water Risk Filter team. Stuart Orr, Leader of WWF’s Freshwater Practice, said: “Now companies can receive a tailored set of recommended actions to tackle their water risks and safeguard their bottom line: there is no longer any excuse for inaction.”
WWF and the World Organization of the Scout Movement teamed up last year to inspire young people around the world to take action for nature. We are now building on this commitment in Africa – agreeing to develop education programmes, projects and resources that will help five million young people across Africa take action on sustainable development in their schools, homes and communities. WWF Africa Regional Director Frederick Kwame Kumah said: “We are passionate about preserving the Earth's natural environment and building a future in which we live in harmony with nature. By working with the scout movement to educate young people to conserve biodiversity, ensure that natural resources are used sustainably, and promote a reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption, we hope to play our part in leaving a better word for future generations.”