Biodiversity is the cornerstone of life on Earth. Every species on the planet depends on it for its evolution and survival – but biodiversity is increasingly fragile and is now under threat as never before.
Mankind has already wiped out 83% of wild mammals and half of all plants, according to the World Economic Forum. Meanwhile, three quarters of ice-free land and two thirds of oceans have been severely altered, a report titled Making Peace with Nature by the United Nations Environment Programme concluded.
Nature provides the ecosystem services such as food and fuel that modern life relies on. Critically, land and ocean ecosystems can also trap large amounts of carbon dioxide, absorbing around 60% of the carbon emissions generated by human activity.
According to a World Economic Forum report in 2020, more than half the world’s gross domestic product – with a value of some US$44 trillion – is moderately or highly dependent on nature. The risks of inaction are, therefore, immense.
Nature-related risks such as zoonotic disease outbreaks including COVID-19 are associated with environmental degradation and can impact the economy in the same way as climate-related risks. Zoonotic diseases are those caused by viruses, bacteria or other infectious agents that cross the species barrier from animals to infect people.
To preserve the circle of life that biodiversity ensures, mankind must accelerate protection and enforcement measures and make transformative changes to safeguard the health of our planet.