Decrease in Global Wildlife Populations Rises to 69%

By Sharon Atieno

Global wildlife populations have declined by 69% since 1970, with freshwater species being the most affected at 83%, according to the Living Index report 2022.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) report looking at 32,000 animal populations of 5, 230 species across the world notes that in Africa, there is a 66% drop with the strongest declines being registered in mammals and freshwater fish.

Around the world, the report indicates that the main drivers of the decline are habitat degradation and loss, exploitation, the introduction of invasive species, pollution, climate change, and disease.

Further, the report notes that human use of nature has exceeded nature’s capacity to sustain it, resulting in increased production of carbon emissions. In 2020 alone, the world average footprint amounted to 2.5 global hectares per person compared to 1.6 global hectares of biodiversity- a clear indication of increased consumption.

Calling for the unlocking of finance for both climate change and biodiversity during the report launch, Alice Ruhweza, Africa Regional Director, WWF-International noted that climate change is driving biodiversity loss and the destruction of ecosystems which in turn is fueling the climate risks.

“Nature is our greatest ally and nature-based solutions will contribute 37% of the solution to climate change,” she said, urging the world’s richest countries to uphold their climate pledge of USD 100 billion, increase their commitments, and put in place biodiversity finance to secure a nature positive future.

The report argues that increasing conservation and restoration efforts, producing and consuming food more sustainably, and rapidly and deeply decarbonizing all sectors can mitigate the twin crises. The authors also call on policymakers to transform economies so that natural resources are properly valued.

“We need to create and move from dealing with events to addressing system tipping dynamics where we have agents of change and a mix of interventions that can trigger and potentially accelerate transformative pathways to sustainable use and production. The Living Planet Report proposes that we create enabling conditions and look for leveraged points that can help drive the agents of change to deliver more,” Jackson Kiplagat, Head of ConservationProgrammes atWWF-Kenya said.

“To reverse this nature loss and achieve recovery of key species, will require ambitious commitments nationally and more importantly from world leaders at the next 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) in Montreal, Canada.”

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