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Biodiversity Loss A Top Global Risk in the Coming Decade

Protecting 30 percent of the Earth’s lands and oceans offers safety net for nature, people and the climate

Today, the World Economic Forum released a new report outlining the findings of its annual Global Risks Perception Survey. Environmental concerns dominate the top long-term risks identified by survey participants, with “major biodiversity loss” named the second-most-impactful and third-most-likely risk for the next decade. The report notes its potential “irreversible consequences for the environment, resulting in severely depleted resources for humankind as well as industries.”

Enric Sala, Explorer in Residence at National Geographic, and co-author of the Global Deal for Nature that recommends 30 percent of Earth to be formally protected and an additional 20 percent designated as climate stabilization areas has issued the following response:

“The natural world is at a breaking point—and it’s increasingly clear that people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake if we don’t protect our natural world – our life support system.

The entire planet is like a bank account where every living thing makes a different unique and priceless deposit every single day. But sadly, we are the only species that keeps taking money out of that account without ever making a deposit. Our overuse of our natural resources is costing us $6 trillion every year. By 2050, those costs could rise to $28 trillion. And, there are some unique assets we are losing that truly are irreplaceable.

The total value of nature’s benefits to people is estimated to be roughly $125 trillion every year in food, water purification, pollination, protection against floods, and more. This is two-thirds more than the global GDP.

Although the global scope of the challenge is enormous, we still have time to act and we know what to do. Landmark research underlines our urgent imperative to protect at least 30 percent of the Earth’s land and ocean by 2030.  

Achieving this goal will require action and collaboration among governments, business, conservation organizations, as well as the Indigenous and local communities who excel at protecting the natural world. Nature can heal itself to restore our natural safety net.”

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