The news about the state of our planet — from climate change to nature loss — can be severely depressing, so human nature is often just to look away. But like any problem you are trying to solve (whether that’s within your family, community or business) you first need to understand the problem in order to start solving it.
In the past few months a number of reports have been released to help us understand the global state of nature and give us a baseline from which we can start to set goals for the rest of the decade. Many of these have been released in the lead up to the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. COP 15 for short. This next one will be held in Montreal in December.
With huge global problems like biodiversity loss it can sometimes seem like you — as an individual — are fighting a flood with a teaspoon, but we are strong believers that social licence (and the removal of it) can drive immense amounts of change at political and systemic levels. It is not just up to the politicians, policymakers and lobbyists to figure out what needs to be done. All of us should have a knowledge of the problem so we can start taking action with the means we have. Our collective voice shapes the actions of companies that want to destroy our planet for profit, or the representatives who want to pander to them.
At Wedgetail, our understanding of the problem has driven us to take deeper action that transforms the world’s financial flows and tackles the even bigger challenge of systems change.
The Living Planet Report
One of the reports released this month was The Living Planet Report produced by WWF and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The report is based on 420,000 data points and its headline message this year is that there is an average 69% decrease in wildlife populations since 1970. This should be an incredible warning bell to governments, communities and all of us, that we need to take immediate action on nature loss.
The key insights of the report include:
- Scientists are urging that we do not treat the climate change and biodiversity crises as two separate issues — they need to be tackled together in order to be addressed effectively.
- The 5 key drivers of biodiversity loss have been identified by the IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) and include: changes in the use of sea and land; direct exploitation of organisms; climate change; pollution; and invasive non-native species.
- Changes in land use are still the biggest current threat to nature. It destroys and fragments the natural habitats of many plant and animal species on land, in freshwater and in the sea. However, if we are unable to limit warming to 1.5°C, climate change is likely to become the dominant cause of biodiversity loss in the coming decades.
- Freshwater ecosystems have been hit the hardest, having seen an alarming decline of 83% since 1970, more than any other species groups.
- The largest biodiversity loss by region has occurred across Latin America and the Caribbean, and it is far greater than any other region, with a 94% decrease between 1970 and 2018.
- The report found vertebrate biodiversity in Indigenous territories, including Australia, was better than even those found within formally protected areas. It says: “Far from the colonial idea of separating people from nature in order to preserve it — and the concept of the pristine or wilderness free from human influence — Indigenous approaches to conservation regularly place reciprocal people-place relationships at the centre of cultural and care practices.”
A path forward: Nature positive by 2030
"Achieving net-zero loss for nature is certainly not enough; we need a nature- or net-positive goal to restore nature and not simply halt its loss." — Marco Lambertini, Director General WWF International.
Most importantly, the report begins to map a path toward creating a nature positive future and starting the transformational change that needs to happen.
- It documents how countries such as Costa Rica — who added the right to a healthy environment into its constitution back in 1994 — now have renewables delivering 99% of their electricity; laws that ban open pit mining and oil and gas development; and carbon taxes that pay indigenous peoples and farmers to restore forests, which have since doubled in size.
- We need transformational changes in the way we produce and consume, especially in our food systems, reducing waste and favouring healthier and more sustainable diets. Ones that support farmers and leave space for nature at the same time.
- Embedding nature more explicitly into financial and economic systems can help to shift choices towards sustainable practices. For example, the prices of commodities and inputs should reflect the true cost to society in terms of environmental and human impacts.
- Making technology work for the planet. Ecosystems are complex and our understanding of how they work is far from perfect. But we now have access to far more data and hardware that will help us explore, monitor, model and manage our planet.
What is Wedgetail doing?
Just as the global goal of ‘net-zero emissions by 2050’ is disrupting the energy sector, we believe ‘nature positive by 2030’ will disrupt agriculture, forestry, infrastructure, fishing and mining, as well as every other industry that relies upon them.
At Wedgetail we know that to achieve transformational change it will be essential to put theory into practice quickly. And that is exactly what we do — take action. Our projects are pushing transformation in financial tools, regenerative land management, and the technology we are using to help manage and measure impact.
Wedgetail’s name doesn’t just represent the Australian eagle we love, it also represents us pushing a wedge into new nature-positive business models by encouraging the money and innovation to start flowing so others can see the value these businesses return in financial and natural capital.
We have already kicked off some amazing projects with partners all around the world and we will be showing you more about them and our methods and tools in the coming months.