Today is the 8th annual World Wildlife Day. Why on 3 March? It was chosen by the UN in celebration of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which was signed on 3 March 1973. Sadly, the list of endangered species has grown significantly since then.
Having recently watched David Attenborough’s “A Life on Our Planet” and witnessing how my daughter was deeply affected by the visually overwhelming images of loss of nature, animals and plants, it felt necessary to bring more attention to World Wildlife Day to highlight the importance of fighting for nature as we know it.
Our work in sustainability is rewarding as we work on something that is close to our hearts, but it is also scary to see how some companies still settle for the bare minimum. Not that I don’t understand that we have immediate problems which hurt almost every business and individuals but as the much shared cartoon by Graeme MacKay shows, the crisis which we are experiencing right now through the pandemic is dwarfed by what is still coming if we don’t all try our hardest. The recession will go away in a few years but climate change seriously needs to be tackled. The good news is that large parts of the world have bought into the urgency and the need to take significant action in the next ten years.
So why am I banging on about World Wildlife Day and its significance for the sustainability work we do? Current activities and regulations focus strongly on net zero. And no doubt if we can achieve this by 2050 the planet will be a lot happier. But what is not directly addressed in this approach is the loss of biodiversity, the loss of nature, the loss of animals, plants, entire species. Not only does sustainability need to deliver the reduction of climate-changing emissions but we also need to protect the key areas of biodiversity which we have pushed to the edge of existence — whether that is the Amazon rain forest or the rain forests of Borneo, Madagascar, Antarctica, the remaining elephants, orangutans, rhinos, or pangolins.
We need to commit to specific actions to protect and build back their habitats. This cannot be done by just being compliant. Even measuring CO2e emissions and making sure that they go down to net zero by 2050 is not going to be enough. The actions around wildlife and biodiversity need to be more specific and reach much further than current promises. This is relevant for companies as much as individuals.
But not being gloomy, I will do my bit both in my private life as well as in my professional live and feel confident that enough people will do the same. This comes back to David Attenborough’s “A Life on Our Planet” which ended on a very positive note. The following actions we all can take, with proof that they work.
- Raise standards of living and the level of education, especially of girls, to manage population growth. Proof: Japan’s change of population growth through the latter part of the 20 century.
- Use renewable energy. Proof: Morocco has made a major shift over the last 20 years from being reliant on oil and gas imports to supplying 40% of their energy needs from their own renewable solar energy power plants.
- Create no-fishing zones. Proof: Palau created such zones and within a fairly short time the fish populations recovered so much that the fish spilled into the fishing zones and allowed for much improved catches for local fishermen.
- Return agricultural land to nature by changing our diet to a largely plant based diet. Proof: The Netherlands has shown for decades how to make the most out of every acre.
- Stop deforestation and accelerate reforestation. Proof: Costa Rica has been able to double the amount of rainforest again once their conservation efforts were implemented, supporting biodiversity.
Thank you to all our clients and partners who are doing their part to save this beautiful blue marble. If we do our part, nature will do the rest.