Celebrating International Day for Biological Diversity
Co-written by Susan Evans, Advisor, Conservation Science and Sarah Winterton, Director, Nature in Economy and Community
Today, May 22, is the International Day for Biological Diversity. It’s a day to celebrate the natural wonders of our world, but also one to consider our connection to the biosphere – the Earth – and the important role it plays in supporting life.
Everything we do in our daily lives relies on a resilient planet with abundant species and healthy ecosystems. Think for a moment of the many benefits our planet provides – clean air, flood and storm surge protection, food production, raw materials Biodiversity is the engine that makes it all possible.
There are many ways we can celebrate and support biodiversity in our own lives. By planting milkweed or other plants that support pollinator species like Monarch butterflies and bees in your backyard or on your balcony, you are creating much needed habitat that is often missing from cities. Or, by choosing certified products, like FSC forestry products or MSC fish, you are supporting best business practices that follow measures to ensure the protection of biodiversity.
Yes, businesses need to play a role too. WWF has a long history of developing innovative solutions for protecting and stewarding biodiversity. On April 28, for example, we announced an innovative partnership with the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) to help a historic northern Newfoundland cod fishery return to a healthy and sustainable level of harvesting, while supporting the local economy and culture. This fishery has been under a moratorium since 1992 when cod stocks collapsed. The launch of this project demonstrates that we can find solutions that consider both economic development and biodiversity. With this project we are striving to make the shift towards a sustainable economic future that respects the value of healthy biodiversity, while securing long-term benefits for fish harvesters and their local communities.
Projects and examples like these are more important now than ever. Biodiversity loss is a global issue that threatens the stability of our economy, society and the Earth itself. Last fall, WWF’s Living Planet Report issued a wake-up call – demonstrating that our unsustainable demands on the planet are contributing to a dramatic decline in wildlife populations:. The report shows a shocking 52 per cent decline in wildlife worldwide in just four decades. Then again, in January this year, an international group of scientists sounded the alarm that we had crossed the ‘planetary boundary’ for biodiversity; meaning that we are now officially, as a planet, no longer living off the ‘interest’ mother nature provides, but instead are substantially depleting the capital.
With little regard for the biosphere’s increasingly limited capacity to provide us with a healthy and stable existence, our accelerated rate of development has already pushed us into a danger zone. We are systematically undermining and diminishing the capacity of the very life support systems upon which we rely to exist. Nature’s response to these pressures shows obvious signs of abrupt — and irreversible – tipping points being reached such as, accelerated melting of the Greenland ice cap, collapsing coral reefs, and the global shift from rainforests to savannahs.
The time to invest in re-defining sustainable development pathways that put biodiversity first, is now. We have a choice. If we want to thrive in the future, and if we want future generations to thrive, we must recognize the need to maintain the biodiversity that keeps this planet stable. Each decision we make is an opportunity to choose a future where we prosper within the limits of nature. Let’s make every decision count!