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Standing at a crossroads for humanity and nature

Richard Benwell, CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link, highlights three major reports released in the last week on the dire state of our natural world and what we need our UK leaders to do to reverse nature's decline

September 2020

Last week, the WWF and ZSL Living Planet Report found that 68% of species are in decline.

This week, the RSPB called out a Lost Decade For Nature, with the UK failing 17 out of 20 of its commitments to nature.

And today, the UN publishes the Global Biodiversity Outlook, which confirms that the international community has failed in its 10 year effort to halt the decline of nature. Only 6 out of 20 Aichi biodiversity targets have been even partially met. The UN in its report says that the failure to achieve these targets means that ‘humanity stands at a crossroads with regard to the legacy it leaves to future generations.’
Next year, a new round of global talks will aim to agree a 2030 target to restore our natural world.

And this time, things can be different.

But decisions are being made now, right here in the UK, that could determine whether we succeed.

This Government has pledged to be the first to pass on the environment in better condition.

So, we’ve written to the Prime Minister to ask him to announce his support for a new global target to reverse nature’s decline by 2030.

And to be credible, we need action here at home. The Government is working on an Environment Bill that will set new targets for nature, but they won’t be agreed until 2022. We need an upfront commitment now that we will set our own legally-binding targets to restore species and habitats, with action to achieve them that won’t simply export the problems abroad.

And to back that up, we need real investment.

We all have until 24 September to write to the Treasury about how it should allocate public money over the next three years. At the moment, the Environment Department receives just a quarter of a per cent of government spending. The Government has pledged £640million for a Nature for Climate Fund by 2024, but by our reckoning that amount of investment is needed every year to have a hope of turning round nature’s decline.

This has been a hard week for people who care about nature, rounding off a hard decade.

Nature can’t afford another one.

Please join us in calling on the Government to commit now to strong international and domestic targets for nature and the funding to fulfil them.

Dr Richard Benwell, @RSBenwell, is CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link.

The opinions expressed in this blog are the author's and not necessarily those of the wider Link membership.