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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A New Deal for Nature and People

Nature makes our life better by giving us good food, clean air, freshwater and so much more – but climate change and other causes of nature loss put this all under threat. Reversing this accelerating loss requires dramatically increased action. And so we are calling for new global commitments to be put in place by 2020 − a New Deal for Nature and People is what we call this. Last month, we welcomed hopeful signs at the UN climate talks in Poland and at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity conference in Egypt. However, we believe governments must do much more to tackle climate change and ensure we maintain the rich variety of life on Earth. We remain hopeful about the future – and will continue to work with governments, businesses and individuals to ensure a New Deal becomes a reality. 


Positive steps towards a sustainable blue economy

How can we harness the economic potential of oceans in a way that provides social and economic benefits, together with productive and resilient ecosystems, for current and future generations? The first ever global conference on this vital issue took place in Kenya, with over 18,000 participants from 184 countries, ranging from NGOs such as WWF to individual citizens and heads of government. WWF President Pavan Sukhdev, who jointly provided the opening keynote address to the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, said: “The way forward is to commit to the sustainable development of the blue economy, and we are pleased to be working together with many leading public and private sector partners on this critical voyage ahead.” Read Pavan’s reflections on creating a sustainable blue economy and our report, launched alongside the conference, on how the Arctic’s ocean resources and economies can be developed sustainably


Hope for sturgeons in Europe…

After decades of plummeting numbers due to poaching and habitat loss, Europe’s sturgeon have been given hope as 50 European countries and the European Union agreed a continent-wide action plan to save them. The landmark commitment was adopted by the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats – a legally binding treaty, covering most of Europe’s natural heritage. The action plan, which was developed by WWF and other partners, covers eight European species, seven of which are listed as critically endangered and one as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The plan aims to conserve the surviving populations, restore habitats, end poaching and reintroduce sturgeon. “We now have a chance to save these extraordinary fish that can grow as big as a car and have survived since the time of the dinosaurs,” said our Sturgeon Strategy Coordinator Beate Striebel-Greiter.


… And for jaguars in Latin America

An unprecedented commitment to saving the jaguar has come from WWF, other leading international conservation organizations, and Latin American countries where the big cat ranges. Half of the jaguar’s original range has already been lost and its populations are declining due to illegal poaching, human-jaguar conflict and the loss and fragmentation of its habitat. The Jaguar 2030 Conservation Roadmap for the Americas aims to secure 30 key landscapes across countries ranging from Mexico to Argentina. It will pave a path to strengthen efforts to protect the jaguar, including initiatives to protect their habitat and to reduce human-jaguar conflicts. It will also stimulate sustainable development efforts, such as ecotourism, that help enable local communities to co-exist with the jaguar. WWF Mexico Conservation Director María José Villanueva said: “We cannot continue developing at the expense of biodiversity – we need to find a balance where both people and nature can thrive.”


Rhine and Meuse rivers reconnected to sea

The opening of Haringvliet dam’s gates in the Netherlands could prove to be an historic day for nature in northern Europe. For the first time in 47 years, the Rhine and Meuse rivers were connected to the sea and, from now on, the gates will be regularly left open. This will allow the Haringvliet delta to experience both tides and the natural movement of fresh river water to sea water. This will ensure that this delta – part of which is a Ramsar wetland of international importance – can sustain a much richer range of species. "WWF hopes that the Haringvliet will again be an international crossroads for birds and fish,” said Kirsten Schuijt, CEO of WWF-Netherlands, which campaigned for years to reopen the gates, “where birds such as pied sandpipers can stop on their long migratory flights and where fish including sturgeon and salmon can rest in brackish water on their journey to spawning grounds in Germany and Switzerland."


Sir David Attenborough voices new Netflix series Our Planet

World-renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough will voice the upcoming Netflix original eight-part documentary series Our Planet, which will premiere across over 190 countries on 5 April 2019. The ambitious series has been created in collaboration with WWF and Silverback Films, whose director Alastair Fothergill was the creator of the critically acclaimed Planet Earth and Blue Planet series. “Our Planet will take viewers on a spectacular journey of discovery showcasing the beauty and fragility of our natural world,” explained Sir David, who also recently held the world in thrall at the opening ceremony of UN climate conference in Poland. “Today we humans have become the greatest threat to the health of our home,“ he added, “but there’s still time to address the challenges we’ve created, if we act now. We need the world to pay attention.” Watch a taster here.