Ever-growing human demand for resources, is putting tremendous pressures on biodiversity. This threatens the continued provision of ecosystem services, which not only further threatens biodiversity but also our own species’ future security, health and well-being.
The Living Planet Index continues to show around a 30 per cent global decline in biodiversity health since 1970. This trend is seen across terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems, but is greatest for freshwater species, whose populations show an average 37 per cent decline. The tropical freshwater index declined even more precipitously, by 70 per cent. Overall, the global tropical index declined by 60 per cent since 1970. In contrast, the index for temperate regions increased by 31 per cent over the same period. However, this does not necessarily mean that temperate biodiversity is in a better state than tropical biodiversity, as the temperate index disguises huge historical losses prior to the start of the analysis.
The Water Footprint of Production provides a second indication of human demand on renewable resources. For the first time, this report includes an analysis of water availability throughout the year in the world’s major river basins. This shows that 2.7 billion people around the world already live in catchments that experience severe water shortages for at least one month a year.
Continuing with “business as usual” will have serious, and potentially catastrophic, consequences. In particular, continued increases in greenhouse gas emissions will irreversibly commit the world to a global average temperature rise of well over 2oC, which will severely disrupt the functioning of almost all global ecosystems and dramatically affect human development and well-being.