Leaders must accelerate action to tackle climate and nature crises

Posted on 23 May 2022
Leaders must accelerate action to tackle climate and nature crises, says WWF of first in-person Davos in two years.

With world leaders meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland (22-26 May), for the first in-person Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in two years, WWF today issued a stark warning that the world remains on course for environmental catastrophe, which must be averted.

The warning comes at the agenda-setting meeting because, despite leaders promising greater action on climate and nature at the UN climate talks in November for instance, greenhouse gas emissions are still rising and nature is being destroyed at unprecedented rates, creating a dangerously unbalanced relationship with the natural systems on which our very survival depends. WWF calls on political and business leaders attending Davos to accelerate their efforts to successfully tackle the related climate and nature crises.

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, said: “While it is important to recognize the progress that has been made on key environmental issues in the last year, the world remains on course for environmental catastrophe unless it takes urgent and unprecedented action to address the climate and nature crises. 
“In the face of growing political and economic instability, leaders meeting at Davos must balance short-term responses with the long-term actions needed to increase resilience and secure a liveable planet for future generations. This means urgently increasing the ambition of their climate targets, transitioning to sustainable food systems, and stepping up efforts to conserve the ecosystems and biodiversity left on the planet, while restoring what’s possible. This year, world leaders have an unmissable chance to embrace a ‘Paris-style’ agreement to tackle our escalating nature crisis and make a fairer, nature-positive, and food-secure world a reality.”

As global greenhouse emissions return to sky-high levels last seen before the COVID-19 pandemic, deforestation remains alarmingly high, and the global extinction crisis continues unabated. A landmark UN study in 2018 revealed that more than one million species are now threatened with extinction.  

Political and business leaders meeting in Davos are expected to discuss the world’s shifting geopolitical landscape and recovery from the pandemic. In WWF’s view, action to create more sustainable and resilient food systems is essential to long term food security and reducing our vulnerability to pandemics. 

Joao Campari, Leader of WWF’s Global Food Practice, said: On top of the nature and climate crises, we are facing an escalating food security crisis. As leaders grapple with shocks and stresses, and justifiably focus on securing food supplies, we must ensure building sustainable and resilient food systems remains a long-term priority. If not, we will face even more frequent and more damaging crises.
“The way we produce and consume food is both the biggest driver of nature loss and a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Adopting nature-positive food production practices is a win-win for people and the planet and should be a priority for forward-looking countries and businesses.”

Food systems drive 70% of biodiversity loss on land and 50% in freshwater. They are responsible for 80% of deforestation and generate around 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

WWF at Davos 2022

WWF will be present at Davos calling on governments, businesses, civil society and other stakeholders to come together in support of an ambitious global plan for biodiversity. The negotiation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework – scheduled to be adopted in Kunming, China, later this year – represents a once-in-a-decade opportunity to tackle nature loss.

Together with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and Business for Nature, WWF will be hosting a Nature dinner on Tuesday 24 May. This will bring together high level champions in support of a global goal of reversing biodiversity loss to be nature positive by 2030. In WWF’s view, such a goal is essential to drive action across society, similar to the 1.5C goal for climate.

The business case for action is unquestionable. Natural disasters caused by climate change and human ecosystem disruption already cost more than $300 billion per year. Meanwhile, climate-smart growth could deliver at least $26 trillion in economic benefits through to 2030, and a move to more sustainable agriculture, combined with forest protection, could deliver over $2 trillion per year.


For further information, contact news@wwfint.org