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Biodiversity loss addressed in WWF Living Planet Conference

WWF said there was a serious decline in species, an issue that needed to be addressed as this was not a positive reflection of overall ecosystem health. Picture: Matthew Jordaan/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

WWF said there was a serious decline in species, an issue that needed to be addressed as this was not a positive reflection of overall ecosystem health. Picture: Matthew Jordaan/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Aug 23, 2021

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Cape Town - To address current threats to South Africa’s biodiversity and its effect on human life, the World Wide Fund for Nature SA’s (WWF) Living Planet Conference 2021 is set to launch this month.

The conference will explore these dangers as well as the dramatic decline in species’ populations, resulting from habitat loss and degradation.

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This year marks the eighth edition of the WWF’s conference, which will be held virtually from August 24 to August 26, with discussions around on securing biodiversity, the role of financing and the business community, issues around climate and water security and the importance of indigenous knowledge in efforts to secure biodiversity.

WWF said there was a serious decline in species, an issue that needed to be addressed as this was not a positive reflection of overall ecosystem health.

Their 2020 Living Planet Index revealed that the main cause of this dramatic decline was habitat loss and degradation, such as deforestation, largely driven by food production.

“SA has incredible biodiversity assets but is emerging from a period of unsustainable and inequitable development which has had significant economic and social impacts.

“This means that organisations now face a major challenge, and calls are being made for leaders to act urgently.

“The World Economic Forum’s most recent Risk Report named the top three most likely long-term risks and they were all environmental: extreme weather, human environmental damage and biodiversity loss,” said WWF SA business development head Justin Smith.

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He said unsustainable human activities were destroying habitats and polluting land, freshwater and marine ecosystems.

A highlight of the conference will be the panel discussion on increased action towards a nature-positive outcome, bringing together climate, biodiversity and sustainable development into one common vision by leaders in SA’s conservation sector, including South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) chief executive officer Shonisani Munzhedzi, UN Development Programme resident representative Dr Ayodele Odusola and WWF SA CEO Dr Morné du Plessis.

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