Momentum grows for a New Deal for Nature and People
WWF is urging world leaders to commit by 2020 to a global plan of action to protect the planet – a plan we call the New Deal for Nature and People. So we were heartened by the commitment to nature protection at the recent annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss resort of Davos – an event that sees thousands of political and business leaders discuss the most urgent issues of the day. We helped ensure that the issues of climate change and nature loss took centre stage − and were particularly delighted by the positive response to WWF ambassador Sir David Attenborough joining HRH the Duke of Cambridge to discuss the world’s most urgent environmental challenges. WWF also hosted a well received and oversubscribed event with heads of UN agencies, governments, companies and NGOs to create broad-based support for the New Deal. Read the blog from our Director General Marco Lambertini to find out why we urgently need these global commitments by 2020.
Digital platform to track product sustainability
A revolutionary new WWF-backed digital platform, which tracks food and products from production to consumption, will help consumers and businesses avoid illegal, environmentally damaging or unethical goods. OpenSC, launched by WWF and BCG Digital Ventures, has already successfully completed a pilot to track Chilean toothfish from the deep sea to the plate. The platform enables anyone with a smartphone to find out where the fish came from, when and how it was produced, and how it journeyed along the supply chain. A digital tag is attached to products at the original point of production, with movements and other data recorded using blockchain technology that prevents data tampering. There are big opportunities to use the platform for a range of food and other products. WWF Director General Marco Lambertini said: “Unsustainable production of food and goods is a major driver of environmental damage. Now for the first time, OpenSC gives consumers the power to track their purchases from source, enabling them to demand sustainable and ethical food and other products. OpenSC is a game-changer, massively increasing transparency and accountability.”
Insurance industry action for natural World Heritage sites
Almost half of natural UNESCO World Heritage sites, which contain our planet’s most extraordinary places, are currently threatened by harmful human activities such as illegal logging, overfishing, road building and large-scale dam construction. And yet, they are vitally important to millions of people – providing them with food, water, jobs and so much more. We have been working with partners to encourage the insurance industry to take action – and are delighted to announce that a pioneering new insurance industry guide will be developed this year with leading insurers to help ensure that their risk management, insurance and investment activities do not harm these sites. Margaret Kuhlow, WWF’s Finance Practice Leader, said: “It is great to see so many major insurers from across the globe commit to help the wider industry identify how they can better protect World Heritage sites. Over 11 million people and countless species rely on these sites being properly protected; yet today many are under threat.”
Singapore takes on plastics pollution crisis
There are already more than 150 million tonnes of plastic in our oceans, with around 8 million more tonnes added each year. This deepening pollution crisis is harmful to people and nature – and we urgently need a UN agreement to end ocean plastics pollution by 2030. In advance of a global campaign in February calling for action by world leaders, WWF Singapore launched PACT (Plastic ACTion) − a coalition for business solutions to reduce plastics use. Nine Singapore food and beverage, retail and hospitality companies have already pledged to reduce their plastic production and usage by 2030. Kim Stengert, WWF Singapore’s Strategic Communication and External Relations Chief, said: “While the removal of a straw or slight reduction of plastic bags is great, these measures are just not enough to match the level of the plastic pollution crisis. PACT is a commitment to systemic change and the signees make ambitious and science-based decisions to do so.”
Court decision protects Bulgarian World Heritage site
Long-running efforts by WWF and other environmental organizations to prevent Bulgaria’s Pirin National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, from being opened up to construction have paid off. In a ruling that cannot be appealed, Bulgaria's supreme administrative court overturned controversial changes to the management plan that would have opened up almost half of the park to logging and potential new construction in the Bansko ski resort. WWF launched international efforts, part of our global Shared Heritage campaign, which resulted in more than 125,000 people from all over the world signing a petition asking the Bulgarian government to protect the site. The park contains centuries-old pine forests and is a home to bears, wolves and chamois.