putting tremendous pressures on our planet’s biodiversity and is threatening our future
security, health and well-being, reveals the 2012 edition of WWF’s Living Planet Report
– the leading biennial survey of the Earth’s health.
Produced in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London and Global Footprint
Network, this year’s report was launched today from the International Space Station – by
ESA astronaut André Kuipers, who provided a unique perspective of the state of the
planet from his European Space Agency mission.
“We only have one Earth. From up here I can see humanity’s footprint, including forest
fires, air pollution and erosion – challenges which are reflected in this edition of the
Living Planet Report,” said Kuipers in launching the report during his second mission into
space. “While there are unsustainable pressures on the planet, we have the ability to
save our home, not only for our benefit, but, above all, for generations to come,” he said.
The Living Planet Report uses the global Living Planet Index to measure changes in the
health of the planet's ecosystems by tracking 9,000 populations of more than 2,600
species. The global Index shows almost a 30 per cent decrease since 1970, with the
tropics the hardest hit – where there has been a 60 per cent decline in less than 40
years. Just as biodiversity is on a downward trend, the Earth’s Ecological Footprint, one
of the other key indicators used in the report, illustrates how our demand on natural
resources has become unsustainable.
“We are living as if we have an extra planet at our disposal. We are using 50 per cent
more resources that the Earth can sustainably produce and unless we change course,
that number will grow fast – by 2030 even two planets will not be enough,” said Jim
Leape,- Director General of WWF International.
WWF– World Wide Fund for Nature (Formerly World Wildlife Fund)
The report reinforces the impact of human population growth and over-consumption as
critical driving forces behind environmental pressure.
“This report is like a planetary check-up and the results indicate we have a very sick
planet,” said Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Programme Director with the Zoological
Society of London. “Ignoring this diagnosis will have major implications for humanity. We
can restore the planet’s health, but only through addressing the root causes, population
growth and over-consumption.”
The report also highlights the impact of urbanization as a growing dynamic – by 2050,
two out of every three people will live in a city; and the need for humanity to develop new
and improved ways of managing natural resources.
“We can create a prosperous future that provides food, water and energy for the 9 or
perhaps 10 billion people who will be sharing the planet in 2050,” added Leape.
“Solutions lie in such areas as reducing waste, smarter water management and using
renewable sources of energy that are clean and abundant – such as wind and sunlight.”
The difference between rich and poor countries is also underlined in the report. High
income countries have an Ecological Footprint on average five times that of low-income
The top 10 countries with the biggest Ecological Footprint per person are: Qatar, Kuwait,
United Arab Emirates, Denmark, United States of America, Belgium, Australia, Canada,
Netherlands and Ireland.
Yet according to the global Living Planet Index, declines in biodiversity since 1970 have
been most rapid in the lower income countries – demonstrating how the poorest and
most vulnerable nations are subsidizing the lifestyles of wealthier countries. Decreasing
biocapacity (a region’s capacity to regenerate resources) will require a country to import
essential resources from foreign ecosystems – potentially to the long-term detriment of
“Growing external resource dependencies are putting countries at significant risk. The
ecological crisis is becoming a driver for our growing economic pains,” said Mathis
Wackernagel, President of Global Footprint Network. “Using ever more nature, while
having less is a dangerous strategy, yet most countries continue to pursue this path.
Until countries begin tracking and managing their biocapacity deficits, they not only put
the planet at risk, but more importantly, themselves.”
The Living Planet Report outlines a number of solutions needed to reverse the declining
Living Planet Index and bring the Ecological Footprint down to within planetary limits.
These are set out as 16 priority actions, and include improved consumption patterns,
putting an economic value on natural capital, and creating legal and policy frameworks
that manage equitable access to food, water and energy.
The report is launched just five weeks before nations, businesses and civil society
gather in Rio de Janeiro for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 ).
Twenty years on from the last Earth summit, this meeting is a key opportunity for global
leaders to reconfirm their commitment to creating a sustainable future.
WWF– World Wide Fund For Nature (Formerly World Wildlife Fund)
“The challenges underlined in the Living Planet Report are clear,” said Leape. “Rio+20
can and must be the moment for governments to set a new course towards
sustainability. The meeting is a unique opportunity for coalitions of the committed – of
governments, cities and businesses – to join forces and play a crucial role in keeping
this a living planet.”
For further information, contact:
WWF: Peter Sumbi, WWF- Tanzania. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org