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Global Report: Urgent Need for Transformative Change

Paris, France, 6 May 2019 - The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ (IPBES) launched landmark Global Assessment Report providing persuasive evidence on the rapid deterioration of nature and its contributions to people across the world. The report which overlaps with the G7 environment ministers meeting in Metz, Paris, is a wakeup call to policy-makers and businesses to take decisive action stressing on an urgent need for a New Deal for Nature and People by 2020.

The 1,800 page scientific study is the first comprehensive snapshot of the state of the world’s biodiversity since 2005. Evidence was provided by 400 world’s leading experts from across 50 countries. Echoing many of the findings of WWF’s Living Planet Report published in 2018, it paints an alarming picture of species extinctions, wildlife population declines, habitat loss and depletion of ecosystem services crucial for our sustenance and economic development.

The IPBES report shows that human actions have significantly altered nature across the globe. Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered. More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production. Around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades - more than ever before in human history.

This is well aligned with observed trends in the Danube-Carpathian Region. Since the 19th century, over 80% of floodplains have been cut off from river flows in the Danube Basin. The situation is due to the expansion of intensive agricultural land and river engineering measures for flood control, navigation and hydropower generation; all of which severely impact fish production and bird populations. The Danube once sustained six species of sturgeons, including the world´s largest freshwater fish the Beluga sturgeon. Today, four are critically endangered and one is extinct. In Romania, total annual catches fell from 1,144 tons in 1940 to less than 8 tons in 1995. The current sturgeon fishing ban aims to save these animals from extinction. On land, old growth forests in Europe have disappeared completely or shrunk to mere patches. This is why the 260,000 ha of old growth forests preserved in Central and Eastern Europe, providing refuge to thousands of wolves, bears and lynxes, are such a treasure in need of full protection.

The report also offers a comprehensive study of the interlinkage between climate change and nature loss. Among the major contributors of ecosystem changes, human-driven climate change is identified among the key drivers exacerbating the impact of other drivers on nature and human wellbeing. Greenhouse gas emissions have doubled, raising average global temperatures by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius while the global average sea level has risen by 16 to 21 centimetres since 1900. These changes have contributed to widespread impacts in many aspects of biodiversity including species distributions.

"The Global Assessment Report offers irrefutable evidence of not only the unprecedented decline of nature but its risks to human lives and prosperity. The need for urgent action hasn't been clearer. Business as usual is not an option anymore. The report offers hope for setting nature on path to recovery through transformative change by redefining our approach for a more sustainable future." said, Rebecca Shaw, Chief Scientist, WWF

"The IPBES Global Assessment makes it clear that our society is in deep trouble if we continue as usual. But more importantly, it also provides hope that positive change is indeed possible if everyone makes urgent commitments in the interest of future generations. Ours is the first generation with the tools to see how the Earth has been changed by people at our own peril. We’re also the last generation with the opportunity to influence the course of many of those changes. Now is the time to act, not half-heartedly and incrementally but drastically and boldly." said Guenter Mitlacher, Director of International Biodiversity Policy, WWF Germany.

In addition to the IPBES Global Assessment Report, almost 600 conservation champions from around the globe have also backed a ‘Call4Nature’ for global action to halt the decline in nature including renowned scientists, wildlife experts and public figures like wildlife campaigner Jane Goodall, television presenter Chris Packham, and French actress Juliette Binoche. The Call4Nature is an open letter initiated by WWF, underlining the urgent need for action by political leaders to stop the alarming disappearance of life on Earth.

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