Story | 18 Sep, 2020

Reversing Biodiversity Loss & Safeguarding Our Future - Living Planet Report 2020

By Samraansh Sharma - The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Institute of Zoology (Zoological Society of London) recently published "Living Planet Report 2020 - Bending the Curve of Biodiversity Loss". The Report emphasizes the urgency  to rebalance our relationship with nature and the planet. The report warns that the world’s dependence on current economic growth models threatens to eliminate gains in human health and wellbeing, and bring natural disasters even closer to people.

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Photo: World Wildlife Foundation for Nature (WWF)

Living Planet Report 2020       Photo: WWF
As the world struggles to cope with challenges of a global pandemic, the Living Planet Report 2020 discusses a threat of similar global magnitude: biodiversity loss. Utilizing the Living Planet Index, a dynamic dataset of over 21,000 mammals, fish, amphibians, and reptiles, the report calculates a 68 percent decline in global biodiversity between 1970 and 2016. Global species abundance, distribution and composition, as well as soil health, plant diversity, and insect populations continue to be on downward trajectories with no immediate signs of recovery. Land use change and species overexploitation are primary contributors to the global downward curve.

The report also addresses a range of interconnected issues that have been, and continue to be, responsible for biodiversity loss. Socioeconomic demands, technology, governance and population growth are shown to be indirect drivers of global events such as climate change, habitat loss, and soil degradation. Activities such as agriculture and infrastructure development have a direct impact on ecosystems. The severe consequences of anthropogenic pressures on biodiversity, amongst other impacts, threaten global food and nutritional security. 

This pioneering data modeling initiative, Bending the Curve, shows promise of a possible reversal. The modeling, developed on practical realities, lists the changes necessary to preserve existing biodiversity and reverse the downward trend. Sustainable food production and changes in consumption habits are emphasised to be primary drivers for recovery. Through a targeted country level approach, coupled with dietary changes and restriction on land conversion, the report indicates a possibility to reverse biodiversity decline as early as 2050. Achieving this urgent goal, however, rests on the successful efforts of governments, business, and citizens.

Samraansh Sharma       Photo: Samraansh Sharma
WCEL Member Samraansh Sharma is an LL.M. student at William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He has previously worked with WWF - India as a Legal Officer on issues of environmental law and indigenous rights.