Today, more than 30,000 species are threatened with extinction, and the continued loss of wildlife and biodiversity threatens the world’s health, security and wellbeing. The good news is that we have the solution: conserving and restoring nature.
The theme of this year’s World Wildlife Day, “Sustaining all Life on Earth”, reminds us that conservation action works – and benefits both people and wildlife. IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species shows time and again that conservation brings imperilled wildlife back from the brink. In our most recent IUCN Red List update, the status of ten species had improved, including the Guam Rail. This bird has recovered despite being declared ‘Extinct in the Wild,’ thanks to the dedicated work of conservationists.
Conservation successes such as these show us that extinction is not inevitable, but now is the time to act if we are to stop the biodiversity crisis that we created.
Word Wildlife Day happens every year, but 2020 provides a unique opportunity. In June, Governments from around the world will come together with civil society and Indigenous Peoples’ organisations at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2020 in Marseille to decide what will be done to preserve biodiversity. This will be an important milestone in advance of the much-awaited CBD COP15 in Kunming. The decisions made this year must set us on a trajectory towards recovery. Nature-based solutions – interventions that protect nature and healthy ecosystems to solve societal challenges – will be an important part of the solution.
While we know that conservation works, much more needs to be done. Global leaders have an enormous task ahead. Transformative change is needed, and this means governments must set the bar high and fully commit to conservation action.
If there’s anything my experience in conservation and the momentum of the last few years have shown me, it’s that we can do it.