© Troy Mayne
Covering 71 per cent of the planet’s surface, the ocean sustains life on Earth, producing half our oxygen, absorbing and distributing heat around the planet, and greatly influencing the world’s weather systems. With as many as 100 million species, marine biodiversity far exceeds that on land. The ocean also supports billions of people who rely on it for food security and livelihoods. But marine habitats – especially in coastal areas – are under ever- increasing threats from human activities. Above all, the ocean is threatened by the impacts of climate change, especially acidification and warming. WWF’s Global Goal: The world’s most important fisheries and ocean ecosystems are productive and resilient, and improve livelihoods and biodiversity.
Wildlife is integral to the ecosystems on which people rely for survival. Yet across the globe, wildlife is under threat, with a broad range of species being driven towards extinction. Global wildlife populations have fallen by more than half in just 40 years as measured by WWF’s Living Planet Report 2014. Conserving the world’s wildlife is an enormous challenge, but progress is possible. Remarkable successes have been achieved in bringing wildlife populations back from the brink. Together, we can ensure that the world’s wildlife has the space and resources it needs to thrive in harmony with people. WWF’s Global Goal: The world’s most iconic and endangered species are secured and recovering in the wild.
WWF’s Year of the Tiger campaign in 2010 was central to mobilizing global efforts to save wild tigers. With many partners, we helped to develop Tx2 – the global strategy to double wild tiger numbers by 2022. In the tiger range states, we worked with governments and others to create the national plans that underpin it. Now we are seeing the results.
An estimated 13 million hectares of forests were lost each year between 2000 and 2010. In tropical rainforests particularly, deforestation continues to be an urgent environmental issue that jeopardizes people’s livelihoods, threatens species, and intensifies global warming. Forests make a vital contribution to humanity, but their full potential will only be realized if we halt forest damage and destruction. WWF’s Global Goal: The integrity of the world’s most important forests, including their benefits to human well-being, is enhanced and maintained.
Freshwater is the world’s most precious resource. Freshwater habitats house a large proportion of the world’s biodiversity: more than 10 per cent of all known animals and about half of all known fish species. Yet despite its massive role in our lives, water is a surprisingly finite resource. Less than one per cent of the world’s water is fresh and accessible. Water is also hugely threatened. Climate change, population growth and changing consumption patterns are just some of the forces putting freshwater systems increasingly at risk. WWF’s Global Goal: Freshwater ecosystems and flow regimes in key river basins provide water for people and nature.
Climate change poses a fundamental threat to the places, species and communities WWF works to protect. Around the globe, climate change is already seriously affecting human communities, while wildlife and ecosystems are being forever changed. The far-reaching effects of climate change are evident: oceans are becoming more acidic, water supplies are shrinking, agricultural yields are dropping, and forests are burning. But, there is still time to avoid the most severe consequences of climate change, by moving away from fossil fuels to a low carbon economy powered by renewable energy. WWF’s Global Goal: A global shift towards a low carbon and climate resilient future is achieved.
While essential to human life and culture, food production, distribution, management and waste threaten wildlife and wild places on a massive scale. Today, 7.2 billion people consume 1.5 times what the Earth’s natural resources can supply. By 2050, the world’s population will reach 9 billion and the demand for food will double. The challenge is to produce enough food for more people without expanding the land and water already in use. By improving efficiency and productivity while reducing waste and shifting consumption patterns, we can produce enough food for everyone by 2050 on roughly the same amount of land we use now. WWF’s Global Goal: Sustainable food systems conserve nature and maintain food security.
WWF has identified three global drivers of change – Governance, Finance and Markets – that are fundamental to environmental degradation worldwide, and yet could also be powerful positive forces for sustainable development at scale. The stories here give examples of how WWF is helping make the drivers agents for sustainable development.