Given the magnitude of the threat to our biodiversity, concrete, comprehensive and systemic measures must be taken to address the emergency.
According to recent studies, 75% of animal species could disappear in the coming centuries, an alarming observation that underlines the urgency of our situation.
Scientists talk about the 6th mass extinction, with an average drop of 60% in the populations of fish species, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles over the last fifty years.
Reversing this trend is still a possible scenario, but requires a collective mobilization to stop the decline of living.
The importance of changing narratives, especially with young people
Changing mindsets is imperative, especially for young people, the next generation of decision-makers.
The decline of biodiversity is often presented from an apocalyptic perspective. While this approach highlights the urgency of the situation, it can also generate a feeling of helplessness, especially among young people. Indeed, faced with the immensity of the crisis, the new generation may feel overwhelmed, uncertain about its ability to influence the course of events.
However, this generation has not only the capacity but also the responsibility to act. They are the decision-makers, consumers and guardians of tomorrow, and their commitment will determine the future of our planet. It is therefore essential to succeed in inspiring and motivating these young people, rather than paralyzing them with fear.
An indispensable step to achieve this: changing the narrative around biodiversity. Instead of focusing solely on the extent of decline and loss, we need to highlight solutions, successes and means of action. It is crucial to show that each individual can make a difference, and that together we have the power to change the current trajectory.
By highlighting positive initiatives, concrete actions and tangible changes that we can all make, we can cultivate a sense of responsibility and commitment. Environmental education must also play a major role in this narrative shift. By providing youth with the knowledge they need to understand and act, we can help them become tomorrow’s biodiversity champions. The goal is to create a generation of active citizens, aware of their impact and ready to work for a more sustainable future.
The point of view of Gilles Boeuf – Biologist, Emeritus Professor at Sorbonne University and former President of the National Museum of Natural History.
Extract from the article Good Planet Mag of 23 March 2022
“Understanding the need to take care of the environment is as important as learning French or counting”
We must put ecology in the spotlight by explaining to children, from an early age, that they are part of life. They are also a biological construction. They need to understand that they are full of bacteria, that they only eat biology and that they cooperate with biology. It is normal to have mites in your bed in the morning or bacteria on you, in your mouth or hair, without them, you would be sick.
It is necessary to bring scientific knowledge, to show images, to explain, in order to go towards the harmonization of the human being with his environment. You have to show the students a field, a living soil or a drop of seawater as we did with Tara.
We must make it clear that humans cannot live without the environment. By talking about the living human, we forget the human non-vivant which is nevertheless essential.
(…) The living and the environment are certainly not perfect, but they are great. They constantly amaze. If we don’t give our children a sense of wonder, then they won’t want the future we’re offering them. In addition, we talk to them about subjects that completely undermine them, such as the need to put life back in the soil to feed 8 billion human beings or the fact that continuing to damage the oceans makes it impossible for humanity to survive. Understanding that we have to take care of the environment is as important to me as learning French or counting. The beauty of nature is an important ally in this awareness.
How can the company contribute to the preservation of biodiversity?
The private sector has a crucial role to play in preserving biodiversity.
A growing number of companies are beginning to view biodiversity not only as an ethical responsibility, but also as a strategic necessity. They realize that the health of biodiversity is a prerequisite for a sustainable economy, as 60% of global GDP depends on it.
Reducing the environmental footprint is a first approach taken by these companies. They strive to preserve ecosystems in their operating environment, limit harmful emissions and adopt environmentally sustainable practices.
At the same time, they commit themselves financially to nature conservation projects, either through their own initiatives or by forming partnerships with environmental organizations.
However, for these efforts to bear fruit, it is essential that structures have a deep understanding of biodiversity issues. To this end, assessment tools are available to measure the impacts of their activities on biodiversity, an essential step for a successful integration of biodiversity into their economic model.
Taking biodiversity into account can also improve the company’s reputation. In fact, financial rating systems are increasingly focusing on environmental standards.
Finally, beyond their own actions, companies have a crucial role to play in raising awareness of the importance of biodiversity. By educating their employees, customers and partners, they can foster awareness and collective action.
Companies can become key players in the fight against biodiversity loss. By integrating biodiversity into their internal economic and political models, limiting their environmental impact, supporting conservation initiatives and raising awareness of the importance of biodiversity, they have the power to contribute significantly to the preservation of our natural heritage.
The views of Stacy Algrain, Journalist and Environmental Justice Activist
“60% of global GDP depends on biodiversity.”
For some, the simple reading of this sentence is enough to make all the seers turn red, to trigger cerebral crackling and to understand the astonished air that: «ah yes, still».
More than a question of preserving the Earth’s habitability, the very survival of our economy would be at stake.
Essential, I say, vital… biodiversity is in reality also for a myriad of other reasons.
Yet, while issues related to climate change are making their place in the media and corporate space, biodiversity retains its role as a poor relative.
And for good reason, it has long been perceived, wrongly, as a good subject to relegate to SVT courses first level (that is). For nature lovers and butterfly enthusiasts? So much! For serious people and hard science enthusiasts? Certainly not!
Between the prejudices of a nation devoting a cult to engineers and those of the heirs of the duality between nature and culture, we are on the wrong track.
Biodiversity is not just polar bears on their ice floes and mosquitoes that are victims of our windshields.
It is 1 million species identified for 7 to 9 million that remain to be discovered.
These are valuable ecosystems ranging from those that, like the ocean and forests, provide us with oxygen, to those that sequester the famous CO2 such as the Posidonia peatlands and meadows.
Riches still unknown, we discover every day x new species and as many surprising feats. Remember, the wings of the bats had inspired Leonardo Da Vinci for his flying machine and Japanese engineers had been able to design a TGV consuming 10% less electricity by mimicking the aerodynamic morphology of the kingfisher… Drops of water in an ocean of bio-inspired innovation, the ingenuity of life should also call for more humility and responsibility.
In this regard, the scientists I have been able to question have all told me, working in the field and discovering more about living things, that they were only strengthened in one thing: the extent of our ignorance. So at a time when the environmental emergency is urging us to act ever faster, it is urgent to adopt a systemic vision.
The joint report of the IPCC and IPBES, published in 2021, reminded us that climate and biodiversity are two sides of the same coin. Answering the first one will therefore be impossible without questioning our impact on ecosystems and the living that inhabits it.
Global boundaries are also a witness to this. Where climate change is only one, 7 of the 9 are based on biodiversity.
However, if these numerical limits, based on a strictly framed approach, are essential and oh, how essential in rationalizing our collective choices, they represent only part of the answer.
Speaking of the living also means coming out of a cold and purely mathematical approach. It is to cherish science, its data and its rigour, without denying the sensitive part inherent in this new challenge: to reinvent our relationship to the world and to non-human living.
Baptiste Morizot speaks of a crisis of sensitivity that would no longer allow us to grasp the wealth of this world we contemplate. A finding to which Bruno Latour also fully subscribed, calling for all complexity, to add parameters to the equation and to venture into this unexplored part of our territories.
As a journalist, this is precisely what I humbly try to propose: to mingle scientific rigour with the poetry transmitted to us by the living.
In your businesses, you also have that power.
To rigorously measure your impact based on proven tools and methodologies.
The question of your relationship to the world: is it simply a set of resources to be exploited or an intertwining of complex relationships to be protected?
But, more than ever, faced with these questions and alerts, we are endowed with a mission: to make humility, curiosity and the precautionary principle, our compasses at every step.
The urgency of preserving biodiversity is undeniable. Changing the narrative and empowering the next generation, while encouraging businesses to actively engage in this cause, are key steps towards a more resilient planet. Everyone has a role to play: every action counts and can help curb the 6th mass extinction. Together, we can make a difference and ensure a healthy and sustainable future for all living things.