British broadcaster David Attenborough led a call from conservation groups on Wednesday for the world to invest $500 billion a year to halt the destruction of nature, warning that the future of the planet was in “grave jeopardy”.
Attenborough, whose new film “A Life on Our Planet” documents the dangers posed by climate change and the extinction of species, issued the call as the United Nations convened a one-day summit aimed at galvanizing action to protect wildlife.
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“Our natural world is under greater pressure now than at any time in human history, and the future of the entire planet –- on which every single one of us depends –- is in grave jeopardy,” Attenborough, 94, said in a statement.
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“We still have an opportunity to reverse catastrophic biodiversity loss, but time is running out.”
Opening the summit in New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that a million species were at risk of extinction and that climate change and the loss of biodiversity were “destroying Earth’s web of life”.
“We are part of that fragile web and we need it to be healthy so we and future generations may thrive,” Guterres said.
The call to redirect financing away from fossil fuels and other polluting industries and into locally led conservation was launched by environmental group Fauna & Flora International and backed by more than 130 organizations.
“UN member states must take the lead in getting ahead of this crisis and putting funding into the hands of those who are best placed to use it -– local conservation organizations,” said Mark Rose, chief executive of Fauna & Flora International.
The world spends an estimated $80-90 billion on conservation each year, but studies show that hundreds of billions of dollars may be needed to save ecosystems from collapse.
Britain, Canada and others joined the European Union on Monday in pledging to protect 30 percent of their land and seas by 2030. UN officials hope to secure a global agreement on that target at a major round of negotiations on biodiversity due to take place in China in 2021.
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