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.
Our latest conservation wins
US$140 million committed to protect Peruvian Amazon
The Government of Peru, WWF and partners have committed US$140 million to expand and effectively manage almost 17 million hectares of protected areas in the Amazon. The funding will support a government-led initiative to make the country’s protected areas financially sustainable, protecting nature while also promoting the well-being of the people who depend on it. Over half the country is covered in trees and connected by Amazon rivers, with only Brazil holding a larger area of Amazonian tropical forest. This helps make Peru one of the 10 most biodiverse countries in the world, with over 330,000 people depending directly on the country's forests for their livelihoods, and countless more depending on the products and services provided by the forests.Find out more
New protection announced for ‘Amazon of Europe’
An area of 13,000 hectares around the River Mura in Austria has been declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve, adding to the existing protection of the lower courses of the Mura, Drava and Danube rivers – known collectively as the ‘Amazon of Europe’. With its amazing biodiversity and untouched landscapes, this 800,000 hectare area is one of Europe’s most important natural treasures as well as a vital resource for local communities. Austria is the fifth country to agree to the creation of a biosphere reserve – which promotes the conservation of natural areas while also allowing their sustainable use – around this 700km stretch of river. We’ve been working for the past 20 years to help create these individual reserves, and are now supporting efforts to unify protection by forming the world’s first transnational, five-country biosphere reserve.Find out more
Indigenous government creates conservation area in Bolivia
We welcome news that the Guarani nation’s government of Charagua Iyambae in Bolivia has passed a law creating an indigenous conservation area covering 1.2 million hectares – a landmark in efforts by indigenous peoples to make decisions about the conservation of their lands. The newly formed Ñembiguazu conservation area, on the borders of Bolivia and Paraguay, will create a corridor between the Otuquis and Kaa Iya National Parks and will support our conservation work with others in the Chaco and Pantanal regions of Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay. Bounded by Chaco forests to the south, the Pantanal is the world’s largest tropical wetland with thousands of water bird, plant, fish and reptile species thriving in its lakes, lagoons, rivers and marshes. Threats include expanding human settlement, unsustainable farming practices, illegal mining, hydroelectric power plant construction and unregulated tourism.
Zambia decision offers hope for free-flowing rivers
Keeping rivers flowing freely is vitally important for the future of people and nature, so it’s great to hear that the Zambian government has halted plans to build a hydropower dam across the Luangwa river. If construction had gone ahead in the Ndevu Gorge, the resulting fragmentation of the Luangwa would have harmed both local communities and wildlife. 25 chiefdoms rely on the river for freshwater and food, as well as livelihoods based on agriculture, tourism and more. A wealth of wildlife, including 400 bird species, a variety of fish species, and mammals such as elephants, lions and hippos, is also supported by the Luangwa. WWF has been campaigning with partners since last year for legal protection for the Luangwa to help safeguard it from threats such as dams, deforestation and unsustainable agriculture. An incredible 200,000 people backed our calls by signing a petition – and we hope that the government’s decision to halt plans for a dam will now pave the way for legal protection.Find out more
Good news for globally important wildernesses in Spain and China
We’ve long campaigned against threats to UNESCO natural World Heritage sites – wildernesses that have been recognised for their global importance by the UN Agency. Spain’s Doñana National Park is a case in point where we objected to plans to dredge the Guadalquivir River, which runs through this important refuge for migratory birds and other wildlife. The good news is that the project has now been ruled out by the country’s Supreme Court although we will continue to challenge other threats such as illegal water use. Meanwhile, bird sanctuaries along the coast of the Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf in China have secured World Heritage site status. The sanctuaries are vital ‘staging sites’ on the East Asia / Australasia flyway, a migratory route that extends from Arctic Russia to Australia and New Zealand. We welcome the UNESCO decision, having worked for years to protect this area and the millions of migratory birds that it supports.Find out more
Successful green development pilot in Indonesia
WWF-Indonesia has successfully piloted support for green village development in the East Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo. We worked with communities predominantly from the indigenous Dayak people to improve their development planning process to protect local forests, use natural resources sustainably, and carry out green development projects that the communities themselves prioritized and designed. WWF provided technical assistance that helped them make sure their green development plans were aligned with district, regional and national requirements for low-carbon development. The projects included ecotourism activities, the development of a cacao nursery, and improvements to local infrastructure that enable closer monitoring of community conserved forest areas.Find out more