In the last 50 years our world has been transformed by an explosion in global trade, consumption and human population growth, as well as an enormous move towards urbanisation. These underlying trends are driving the destruction and degradation of nature, with the world now overusing natural resources at an unprecedented rate. Only a handful of countries retain most of the last remaining wilderness areas. As a result, our natural world is transforming more rapidly than ever before.
The 2020 global Living Planet Index shows an average 68% fall in monitored populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish between 1970 and 2016. Species’ population trends are important because they are a measure of overall ecosystem health. Measuring biodiversity, the variety of all living things, is complex, and there is no single measure that can capture all the changes in this web of life. Nevertheless, the vast majority of indicators show net declines over recent decades.
Can we reverse these trends of decline? This was the question posed in 2017 by the Bending the Curve Initiative – a consortium of WWF and more than 40 universities, conservation organisations and intergovernmental organisations – in order to research and model pathways to bend the curve of biodiversity loss.