Rethinking the Fight Against Catastrophic Biodiversity Loss
In the midst of everything demanding our attention this year, there is an issue that we are determined not to let fall through the cracks: biodiversity conservation. The UN Summit on Biodiversity took place a few weeks ago in New York on the heels of their findings that the world has failed to meet a single one of the 20 biodiversity goals set in 2010. Up to a million species are at risk of extinction during our lifetimes, many within a few decades. World Wildlife Fund’s new Living Planet Report says that wildlife populations have plummeted by two thirds over the past 50 years due to human activity. When I was born in 1955, the world population was 2.8 billion people. Five years from now, that number will be close to 9 billion people. What that means, is that in the lifespan of one person, we’ve not only tripled the population of the planet, but the pressures and demands that come with it.
These are sobering findings. The scale of change humanity will have to make if we want to conserve biodiversity is not trivial. Traditional indigenous and local knowledge cannot be underestimated or undervalued at such a critical juncture, nor can their rights be ignored. Through our work with partners in the Amazon and Mekong, we have observed regions and communities protecting their lands and the species on them well, at times, better than government-led initiatives. These experiences, and others like it around the world, demonstrate a potential solution that can be equitable for local communities and effective in protecting nature.
What we’re doing now isn’t working and we need new thinking. In this Dispatch, we discuss what community-led conservation means, why it’s an important tool in saving species and combating the climate crisis, and what it looks like on the ground.
Hope you are staying well,