IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre has sent a strong message to the global community at the UNESCO launch of the International Year of Biodiversity in Paris. She says we are all responsible for today’s biodiversity crisis and we must take immediate action to stop it.
Biological diversity, the result of millions of years of natural evolution of animals, plants, genes and ecosystems, constitutes the foundation of life on earth. It’s this diversity which allows us to live and that supports every aspect of our lives. And yet, the pressure that we have been placing on our planet has proved to be too strong for it to support it. The current extinction crisis is a sad testimony to how much damage we have caused.
“In the never-ending quest to improve our lives – and especially in recent decades – we have been disturbing and destroying ecosystems, the natural places where plants, animals and micro-organisms live together “, says Julia Martin-Lefèvre. “Our wanton use and abuse of nature has caused many unique species to become extinct. In short, we are destroying the very natural infrastructure that supports us, at an ever increasing rate. “
In response to the growing threat posed by human activity to biodiversity, at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro world leaders adopted the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Parties of the Convention agreed ‘to significantly reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss at global, regional and national levels’ by 2010. Today, however, it is clear that this target will not be met.
According to the latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, 22 percent of all known mammals, 30 percent of all known amphibians, 12 percent of all known birds, and 28 percent of reptiles, 37 percent of freshwater fish species, 70 percent of plants, 35 percent of invertebrates, assessed so far, are under threat.
During her speech at the UNESCO launch of the International Year of Biodiversity in Paris, Julia Marton-Lefèvre outlined the most important actions that the global community needs to take to effectively respond to the crisis. We must set clear and realistic targets, with specific indicators and transparent means of implementation. We must conduct more research on biodiversity to improve our understanding of the way it functions. We must learn to value nature and use markets and business to conserve it. We must create more protected natural areas on land and sea and raise public awareness of what is at stake. We must also realize and emphasize the crucial role that ecosystems play in helping us mitigate and adapt to climate change. We are an integral part of biodiversity and its crisis concerns us all.
"There is no 'in 10 years time', or 'in 20 years time'", says Julia Marton-Lefèvre. "We do not have this luxury. This year is the International Year of Biodiversity. This year is the time to take action."