Conservation Pulse Oct & Nov 2019 | WWF

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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Our latest conservation wins

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Calls grow for New Deal commitment to restore nature

The science is clear – our planet is in crisis. But world leaders have an unmissable opportunity to commit to restoring nature in the coming decade – a New Deal for Nature and People – at next year’s UN General Assembly. The momentum for action is growing, with 200,000 people from around the world already pledging to raise their voice for nature on the WWF-backed online platform Voice. We have also been actively helping to build global coalitions among governments, businesses and civil society organizations to call on world leaders to do the right thing – and influential figures, including heads of government and business leaders, have attended our key awareness-raising events. We are working flat out but everyone has a role to play – including you.

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New climate action welcomed – but much more needed

While important commitments to increase climate action were made at the recent UN Climate Action Summit, much more must be done to keep warming below 1.5°C – the point at which, scientists say, the impacts of climate change become devastating. So we must keep up the pressure at the next UN Climate Change Conference starting on 2 December for significantly enhanced climate action. Meanwhile, the global groundswell for action is growing. Alliances for Climate Action – the WWF-backed global partnership of local governments, business, investors and other organisations – has announced that Vietnam and South Africa are the two latest countries to form domestic coalitions to drive climate action. Through our Science-Based Targets initiative, 675 companies have now made plans to reduce their emissions in line with climate science. And 252 cities have promised emissions reductions by joining our One Planet City Challenge.

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Pioneering partnership to manage major climate and development fund

A pioneering consortium of NGOs and financiers, including WWF-NL, will manage a €160 million Dutch government fund to help developing countries build climate-resilient economies and ecosystems. Investments from the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development will help both protect communities and cities from the increasing frequency of extreme weather events and strengthen vital natural areas that provide people with water, food, medicine and economic opportunity. They will also seek to improve the well-being, economic prospects and livelihoods of vulnerable groups, particularly women and young people. It’s a revolutionary move for a conservation NGO (WWF), a development finance institution (FMO), a social development NGO (SNV) and a private sector investment manager (Climate Fund Managers) to work together on such a large-scale climate fund.

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World’s first five-nation reserve on the cards

The first five-country biosphere reserve in the world, with major benefits for people and nature, is set to become a reality after an application was submitted to UNESCO. With a total area of around 930,000 hectares and a length of 700 kilometres, the shared nature and wildlife along the Mura, Drava and Danube rivers will become Europe's largest river protection area. Local communities will be key beneficiaries in the so-called ‘Amazon of Europe’, which criss-crosses the territories of Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia. While intact floodplains will protect settlements from floods and ensure clean drinking water supplies, the spectacular landscapes will enhance the potential for sustainable tourism development. WWF, which has been seeking better protection for these rivers for over 20 years, helped the five nations prepare their joint application.

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New reserve to protect Russian forests

A new reserve has been established in Russia’s Arkhangelsk region, protecting 300,000 hectares of one of the last large expanses of pristine forest in Europe – after calls from WWF and other NGOs for the past 17 years. These intact forests are critical for maintaining the ecological balance of the region – helping to regulate the climate by absorbing greenhouse gases and releasing oxygen, protecting key rivers, and providing a home to a variety of wildlife. The forests are important also for local communities who depend on the forests for hunting, fishing and as a gathering place. Andrey Shchegolev, WWF-Russia’s Forest Programme Director, explained how they successfully dealt with difficult negotiations with local timber companies: “We managed to find a solution that would allow local companies in the area to continue operations and preserve jobs for locals while protecting the most ecologically valuable part of the intact forest from logging.”

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Further progress on tackling ocean plastics crisis

Eight million tonnes of plastics end up in our oceans every year – a threat to both people and wildlife. So one of our key priorities at the recent Our Ocean conference in Norway, attended by leaders from politics, business and civil society, was to advance our campaign for a globally binding legal commitment by governments to tackle the plastics crisis. The Norwegian Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs opened the ocean conservation event with a press conference where they stressed the importance of a global agreement to stop ocean plastics pollution and during the conference Grenada, Norway and Sweden committed to support this. Thanks to the brilliant advocacy work of our WWF-Norway team, this could prove to be a pivotal moment in building the momentum for a global treaty. And you too can help keep up the pressure by joining the 1.5 million people who have already signed our plastics pollution petition. Your voice really counts.