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
Tragic Amazon fires must inspire us to protect rainforests
World news has been dominated in recent weeks by the Amazon fires that are pushing the world's largest tropical forest – home to countless species and more than 34 million people, including around 400 indigenous peoples – to the brink of collapse. But the Amazon is not the only place where this is happening: Indonesia and Russia, home to iconic species such as orangutans and tigers, have also experienced record levels of fire. While forest fires do occur naturally, the vast majority are caused by humans and are linked to deforestation and forest degradation. This destruction harms people’s livelihoods, contributes to climate change and threatens the survival of species. In this grim scenario, it is heartening to see that many individuals, communities and organizations – ourselves included – from around the world are trying to stop the fires and are calling on government and business leaders (see our call to action for companies) to address the causes of deforestation. At WWF, we have worked tirelessly to protect forests for people and nature, including the Amazon, for many years. And we will continue our work to halt deforestation and promote forest restoration – to ensure there is a living planet for years to come.Find out more
World Scouting partners with WWF to launch new Panda Badge
Young people have a vital role in creating a more sustainable world. So we are delighted that 50 million Scouts worldwide have the opportunity to earn the new Panda Badge – helping to raise awareness about the importance of nature and inspire action. The badge, which is part of World Scouting’s revamped environment programme, will help young people to better understand the impact of their consumer habits on the environment and how to make more sustainable choices. WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini said: “As nature declines like never before, the new Panda Badge gives young people the chance to learn more about the environment and the urgent steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably. More than ever, we need active citizens to galvanize the global momentum required to inspire people to live in harmony with nature.” World Scouting and WWF have been key partners in the area of environmental education and awareness since 1973.Find out more
One million speak out on ocean plastics pollution
The people have spoken. Over one million people across the world have signed a petition calling on governments to make a globally binding legal commitment to tackle the plastics crisis. Eight million tonnes of plastics end up in our oceans every year – a threat to both people and wildlife. We have already seen signs of progress since we launched the campaign back in February. Nordic countries became the first in the world to formally call for global treaty to tackle the plastics crisis, followed by Caribbean and Pacific countries. This was followed by policymakers adopting the first meaningful globally binding measure on plastics pollution in an important meeting called the Basel Convention. This effectively prohibits developed countries from sending their worthless contaminated plastic waste to developing countries. Our campaign continues…Find out more
Strengthened protection for the Canadian Arctic
Our efforts to protect the Arctic in the face of a warming world has seen a major boost. A 322,000 sq km interim marine protected area, called Tuvaijuittuq, has been designated in a region of the Canadian Arctic where scientists believe sea ice will persist the longest – and so could become a final refuge for sea ice-dependent species such as the polar bear. The Qikiqtani Inuit Association, working with the governments of Canada and Nunavut, led the charge for this with an impact benefit agreement that will ensure communities benefit culturally and economically from protecting this area. A five-year study will then look at permanently protecting it from future threats such as oil and gas development. Meanwhile, WWF-Canada will urge that Tuvaijuittuq is joined to the nearby Tallurutiup Imanga national marine conservation area – creating a massive safe habitat for Arctic wildlife and the Inuit communities they sustain.Find out more
Free-flowing river wins in Europe
Keeping rivers free flowing is vitally important for people and nature – for the species living there and the people who rely on it for vital services such as food and freshwater. We therefore welcome the announcement from Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama that the government will never again allow small hydropower projects below 2MW that negatively affect people and important natural sites. We have been actively involved with hydropower issues in Albania in partnership with the Organisation to Conserve the Albanian Alps (TOKA), challenging the proposed construction of 14 hydropower plants in the Valbona Valley National Park. Meanwhile, in Finland, the country’s biggest ever dam removal is underway after WWF-Finland, the government and other partners raised funds to buy three hydropower dams on the River Hiitolanjoki. Opening up the rapids will help restore the country’s last remaining stock of natural and fully landlocked salmon, as well as encourage high-quality and responsible fishing tourism.
New research highlights solutions to protect forests and biodiversity
Forest wildlife play a vital role in keeping tropical forests healthy and productive – from pollination to supporting carbon storage. So we welcome new WWF-backed research in the Peruvian Amazon that shows low-impact logging practices in commercial tropical forests can contribute to wildlife protection; and that logging concessions, which adopt the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) responsible forest management standards, have a greater richness of species such as amphibians, insects and monkeys than non-FSC certified concessions. WWF Forest Practice Leader Will Baldwin-Cantello said: “This research shows us that it is possible to combine production forestry with biodiversity conservation if done in the right way and in the right places.” The vital importance of such efforts to protect wildlife have been confirmed in our new report, Below the Canopy. This first-ever global assessment of forest biodiversity shows that monitored wildlife populations have shrunk on average by more than half since 1970 – and highlights conservation success stories demonstrating they can recover with the right interventions. Tropical forests are vital for our global climate and for the livelihoods of millions, as well as being a home for many species.
Hopeful signs in efforts to tackle illegal wildlife trade
With a recent report warning that we could lose as many as one million species in coming decades, it’s vital that the wildlife trade is properly regulated. So we welcome some good news. Firstly, the latest meeting of CITES, the agreement on the international trade in endangered species, saw some strong decisions to help tackle the illegal trade in species ranging from marine turtles to sea cucumbers. The meeting failed to sufficiently hold Vietnam to account, despite it being a top destination and transit point for the illicit wildlife trade. But there was better news from elsewhere in South-east Asia, with Singapore recently deciding to close its domestic ivory market. This year alone, Singapore authorities has seized almost nine tonnes of elephant ivory. And finally, WWF-backed research has developed a test to extract DNA from hawksbill turtle products. This could be a turning point in efforts to protect the critically endangered turtle, which is hunted for its beautiful shell. Hawksbill turtles from different regions are genetically distinct. If authorities can test seizures of illegal tortoiseshell products, they can pinpoint which populations are being targeted by poachers and direct policing efforts to those areas.