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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© Andy Cornish / WWF

Our latest conservation wins

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Netflix series highlights need for global action to protect nature

Have you seen the new Our Planet documentary series, which is available on Netflix? Our Planet, created in collaboration with WWF, looks at the most pressing challenges facing our natural world and their solutions. Each episode has a different focus, ranging from forests and jungles to fresh water and the high seas. Our Planet has already been viewed by over 25 million households and there have been 1.7 million visits to OurPlanet.com, which provides fascinating insights into the issues raised by the series. We’re delighted that so many people around the world have watched Our Planet as we urgently need their help to tackle nature loss. We are calling on the world’s governments to develop a global plan of action by 2020 to restore nature − a New Deal for Nature and People is what we call this. And each and every one of us can make their voice heard on this vitally important issue.

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WWF partner announces new $5 billion ocean action plan

WWF welcomes a new action plan from our long-term partner, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), that will provide US$5 billion to improve ocean health and sustainable marine economic activity in Asia and the Pacific. Over the coming five years, the projects will create opportunities in sustainable tourism and fisheries; protect and restore coastal, ocean and river environments; reduce land-based sources of marine pollution; and make port and coastal infrastructure development more sustainable. “This is a very important development, and we are pleased to partner with the ADB for a healthy ocean, crucial to the stability of the planet and of our society,” said WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini. “If the ocean was an economy, it would be the seventh largest in the world. But the threats of climate change, plastics pollution, habitat destruction and unsustainable fishing are pushing the ocean to the edge, and we need to act now.”

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© Sarah Black/WWF

€160 million fund to tackle climate and development issues

WWF-Netherlands is a part of a consortium of NGOs and financiers that has won a tender to manage a new €160 million fund for climate and development initiatives. The Dutch government fund offers us a massive opportunity to develop a pipeline of bankable projects that will improve the well-being, economic prospects and livelihoods of vulnerable groups (particularly women and youth); help communities and cities adapt to climate change; and enhance the health of critical natural systems, including river basins, deltas, rainforests, marshlands and mangroves. “The innovative way that the fund will finance these projects is why this is such a game-changing moment,” said Stuart Orr, Leader of WWF's Freshwater Practice, which collaborated with WWF-NL on the bid through the Bankable Water Solutions initiative. “For the first time, a development bank (FMO) and investment manager (Climate Fund Managers) have joined forces with a conservation organisation (WWF) and a development organization (SNV Netherlands Development Organization) to leverage potentially vast amounts of private financing to address biodiversity loss and climate change.”

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WWF’s ‘Dragons’ Den’ gives go-ahead to four bankable water projects

With nearly two billion people living in areas at risk from water scarcity and an alarming decline in freshwater wildlife numbers, we desperately need financial investment in sustainable water projects around the world. WWF’s Bankable Water Solutions initiative aims to encourage a stream of such projects that also deliver an acceptable return to investors. As part of this initiative, we have been running a series of events in the style of television’s Dragons’ Den to attract funding. At the most recent event in Paris, ‘dragons’ from 14 financial institutions, representing approximately  €3.3 trillion in assets, voted on four potential projects – all of which ended up securing seed funding. Each of the projects takes a different approach to making our river basins more sustainable – from a solar project in Cambodia to renewable energy in Myanmar, and from a climate resilient agri-business in Bhutan to forest landscape restoration in Uganda.

Two new reports from WWF and partners have highlighted key freshwater issues – one on the need for a renewable energy revolution and the other providing the first ever assessment of the world’s remaining free-flowing rivers.

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Momentum grows for action on ocean plastics pollution

Eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped in our oceans each year, threatening both people and wildlife. We launched a campaign against ocean plastic pollution earlier this year, with almost 500,000 people already signing our petition calling for action by the world’s governments. We warmly welcome news therefore that the governments of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have become the first in the world to formally call for a global treaty to tackle this deepening crisis. About 180 governments have also agreed to include plastic waste in a global convention that controls the movement of hazardous wastes. This will mean contaminated and most mixes of plastic wastes will need the agreement of receiving countries before they can be traded. We also launched ReSource: Plastic, a new resource to help companies that have made ambitious plastic commitments but don’t know how to translate these into measurable action. Leading members of this new initiative include Keurig Dr Pepper, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Tetra Pak and The Coca-Cola Company.

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Sustainable seaweed farming success in Madagascar

Around the world, WWF is working in partnership with communities to develop sustainable livelihoods that ensure both people and nature thrive. One example is the Mahafaly coastal communities of Madagascar, where sustainable seaweed farming has become one of the main sources of income for fishers south of the city of Toliara. During the past two years, production has grown from 20 tons to 157 tons, with algae culture supporting over 1,500 people. The vast majority of seaweed farmers are women – and this livelihood has helped to give them increased financial freedom and pay for their children’s school expenses. Seaweed farmer Beveristine Razanakatsiory said: "I am happy I can afford to pay high school for my son with the money from algae. He can learn to speak French and be better prepared for a good job in the future.” This success story has been supported by WWF, a private society called Ocean Farmers and the Malagasy government’s Integrated Growth Poles project.

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© Andy Cornish / WWF

New push to safeguard sharks and rays

Sharks and rays are extremely important for the future of ecosystems that many coastal communities rely on. And yet, mostly due to overfishing, a quarter of all shark and ray species are threatened with extinction, with few in recovery. Unfortunately, the situation could be even worse as there isn’t enough scientific data to decide on the threat to nearly half the species. That’s why WWF and the Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries & Aquaculture (CSTFA) at Australia’s James Cook University have developed the first ever toolkit that provides a variety of ways to collect this vital scientific data. “The more we know about the status of shark and ray populations, the more we can focus conservation efforts where they are most needed,” said WWF’s Dr Andy Cornish. “Creating protected areas has great potential to reduce the overfishing of sharks and rays if we have this basic data, but their management needs to be more effective than to date.” To that end, WWF and the CSTFA have also launched a second tool, the first-ever guide to designing and managing protected areas for sharks and rays.