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
Earth Hour 2019: world unites to put spotlight on nature
8:30 p.m. on Saturday, 30 March – the moment had come for Earth Hour, the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment. Individuals, businesses and cities in 188 countries and territories worldwide joined Earth Hour to speak up for nature and inspire urgent action for the environment − and thousands of landmarks switched off their lights in solidarity for the planet. The results were outstanding: #EarthHour, #Connect2Earth and related hashtags trended in over 25 countries and generated over two billion impressions, and people pledged their support for the planet and challenged world leaders to push the issue up the global agenda. “Mass participation in Earth Hour has shown that people globally demand urgent action for nature,” said WWF International’s Director General Marco Lambertini. “Millions of people have spoken, many urging world leaders to secure an international commitment to stop and reverse the loss of nature. We need a New Deal for Nature and People as comprehensive and ambitious as the Paris Agreement on climate change, universally endorsed from political and business leaders to communities and individuals.” WWF and many others will be working hard for a New Deal in the coming year.Find out more
New global initiative to help transform the rubber market
We’re proud to be a founding member of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber, an important new initiative to help increase the supply and use of sustainably produced natural rubber. Unsustainable and illegal rubber production is threatening many Southeast Asian forests and is increasing in Central Africa. Consumption of natural rubber has doubled over the past 40 years, driven mainly by the demand for vehicle tyres. Unsustainable rubber production can lead to deforestation and forest degradation − impacting wildlife, such as elephants and tigers, and the communities who rely on forests for their livelihoods. The 39 founding members of the Global Platform include tyre companies, car makers, civil society organizations and rubber producers, processors and traders. The platform will develop sustainable natural rubber standards, as well as ways for these to be implemented and monitored to ensure companies live up to their commitments.
Pictured is rubber farm owner Aung Khon in Myanmar.
New hope for restoring world’s forests
Over one billion people live in and around forests, depending on them for fuel, food, medicines and building materials. But human impacts have already led to the loss of around 40% of the world’s forests. WWF therefore welcomes a new UN declaration on restoring the world’s deforested and degraded landscapes in the coming decade. With over two billion hectares worldwide offering opportunities for restoration, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will help energize action on global restoration commitments. WWF Forest Practice Leader Alistair Monument said: “By creating productive landscapes out of this degraded land, we can reduce the pressure on natural forests and help slow down deforestation and forest degradation. Forest landscape restoration presents a huge opportunity for countries to meet their global climate and biodiversity targets and expand economic opportunities. It also brings numerous benefits to people through increased forest area and improved livelihoods.” WWF works with partners around the world to help create and accelerate restoration initiatives.
Pictured is a forest landscape restoration nursery in Uganda.
Bankable projects help Turkish textile companies improve water use
An innovative WWF-backed initiative is helping to improve water use and reduce pollution in Turkey’s Büyük Menderes river basin – home to two globally important wetlands. The WWF-Turkey and South Aegean Development Agency (GEKA) programme helps textile companies to adopt processes that use less water, chemicals and energy, and reduce solid waste and wastewater. Just one year since its launch, the programme has inspired seven companies to invest €6.5 million in production techniques that save 1.5 million cubic metres of water a year – and encouraged 12 more textile producers to commit €3 million to investing in cleaner processes. Four fashion brands – Altınyıldız, Boyner Group, Koton and Yünsa – have also joined efforts, pioneered by H&M and strengthened by the involvement of Inditex (Zara), to transform water usage in the river basin. These efforts are inspired by WWF’s global efforts to find bankable projects that both protect nature and are good for business. In addition to the environmental benefits, cleaner production helps companies reduce production and waste-management costs, comply with environmental regulations, align with the demands of multinationals, and increase brand value.Find out more
Logging regulations in Russian Caucasus to protect biodiversity
We need to maintain a rich biodiversity – the huge variety of life on Earth – to help nature cope with climate change and other threats. So we welcome news that the 11 regions of the Russian Caucasus have adopted WWF-backed logging regulations to help conserve biodiversity. The rules, which will remain in force until 2028, require loggers to protect forest areas that play an important role in maintaining biological diversity. This would include, for example, trees where rare birds nest. “We’re glad that all the regions of the Russian Caucasus recognized the importance of sustainable forest management,” said WWF-Russia’s Elena Cherkasova. “The Caucasus is one of the richest parts of Russia in terms of species diversity. Our goal is to conserve and protect the biological diversity and natural resources of the territory.” WWF-Russia’s efforts to require biodiversity protection in logging operations has so far been adopted in 39 Russian regions.Find out more
Efforts to curb wildlife trafficking in Africa
The latest in a series of workshops to tackle the illegal wildlife trade in Africa has taken place in Botswana and Kenya. China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA) and WWF, supported by the Chinese embassies in Nairobi and Gaborone, have run workshops on wildlife trafficking for Chinese nationals living and working in the two countries. Chinese consumer demand is a strong driver of the illegal wildlife trade, which threatens many species including elephants and rhinos. The Chinese Government has responded in a number of ways: closing its domestic ivory market, banning commercial processing of rhino horn and tiger bone, and tightening legislation on trade in other endangered species. The workshops back up this work by helping to inform Chinese nationals about wildlife trade regulations and the penalties for breaking the law. This was the 15th outreach workshop of its kind to be jointly run by WWF and NFGA in collaboration with various Chinese embassies in Africa.Find out more