Action needed to tackle collapse of nature and wildlife
Worldwide nature is being exploited and destroyed by humans on a scale never previously recorded. Thus states The Living Planet Report, a recently published assessment of global biodiversity. Animal populations have plunged by more than two-thirds on average since 1970, as humanity is pushing the planet’s life support systems to the edge by overconsumption, population growth and intensive agriculture. Experts, NGO’s and political parties for the animals worldwide call for immediate action. “There is no Planet B. We must fundamentally change our food and economic system to stop putting at risk our health, security and very survival”, according to Esther Ouwehand, party leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals.
The Living Planet Report 2020, compiled by 134 experts from around the world, is one of the most comprehensive assessments of global biodiversity. It’s results are further evidence of the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth, with one million species at risk because of human activity, according to the UN’s global assessment report in 2019. In all regions of the world, vertebrate wildlife populations are collapsing; in some regions as much as 94% (Latin America and the Caribbean) and less in others, but with an alarming 68% on average.
“All the indicators of biodiversity loss are heading the wrong way rapidly”, Mike Barrett, executive director of conservation and science at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says. The causes? The overexploitation of ecosystems, habitat fragmentation, deforestation and the conversion of wild spaces for human food production.
“Urgent and immediate action is necessary in the food and agriculture sector”, Barrett says. “As a start, there has got to be regulation to get deforestation out of our supply chain straight away. That’s absolutely vital.” Sir David Attenborough, the famous British biologist who wrote a collection of essays accompanying the report, also stresses the need of “systemic shifts in how we produce food, create energy, manage our oceans and use materials” and the need to “bring about a greater equality between what nations take from the world and what they give back. The wealthier nations have taken a lot and the time has now come to give.”
Plan B: nature restoration and systemic change
This is exactly what the Dutch Party for the Animals and its sister parties worldwide aim to accomplish. As party leader Esther Ouwehand explains: “Western governments play an important role in the deterioration of natural resources elsewhere on Earth. Large-scale imports of soya, wood, and palm oil are at the direct expense of tropical rainforests and primary forests, while overfishing by the European fishing fleet seriously damages seas and oceans across the world. Our current growth-driven economic system is unsustainable; it increases global inequality and destroys the Earth. Eternal growth on a finite planet is simply impossible. Instead, we want a sustainable, ecocentric economy that offers enough for everyone, within the boundaries of the Earth - as described by the doughnut model introduced by the British economist Kate Raworth.”
The Party for the Animals wants to actively support the restoration and protection of natural sites worldwide. “Research shows that conservation efforts and nature restoration do work. Both nature and animal populations show amazing signs of recovery”, Ouwehand says. “The most important and effective measure to halt the decline of biodiversity is to reduce the consumption of animal products, since the production of meat and dairy is one of the main causes of nature destruction, climate change, habitat loss, and deforestation.” Therefore, the Party for the Animals and its sister parties in several countries worldwide are calling for a food revolution and an end to industrial farming.
With local and national elected representatives in several countries worldwide and in the European Parliament, the animal rights parties want all policies to be weighed against the consequences for animals, nature, the environment and our health. Thus, the Party for the Animals leads the political resistance against destructive policies such as the international trade in wild animals, overfishing, deforestation and trade deals such as Mercosur.
“More and more people are becoming aware of the urgent need to change their habits and our system. So there is hope!” Ouwehand adds.
(This text is partly based on this article in The Guardian by Patrick Greenfield)