Saving the Planet to Save The People | WWF Malaysia

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Saving the Planet to Save The People

By Sophia Lim, CEO, WWF-MALAYSIA

Nature is the very core of the world’s existence. It is hardly an exaggerated notion to say that systems and activities involving the society or economy are inevitably connected to nature. As the world transformed to negotiate the growth in human population, urbanization, and globalization, the one mostly affected by the deteriorating consequences of it all was nature. With natural resources being depleted at alarming rates, and surviving wilderness sacrificed for modern developments, our planet has, in fact, begun flashing red warning signs. As we progress into 2020 and even as we grapple with the truth of how our lives have momentously changed, it is crucial that we act to end the underlying cause of our environmental concerns. We must understand that the business and finance industry has a crucial role in all this and that investment in Nature-Based Solutions through protecting and restoring nature in the relevant supply chains are critical.

Recently, WWF launched the biennial Living Planet Report (LPR) 2020. The LPR is a flagship study of global biodiversity trends and health of the planet. The findings presented in the report echoed what we have known, and what nature had been trying to tell us all this while; that our nature is declining on a global scale at an alarming rate like never before in millions of years. Everything about how we exploited nature - from our severe stress on food and energy systems, loss of species at alarming rates, massive deforestation, climate change, increased depletion of non-renewable resources, soaring levels of pollution and global warming - signals how unsustainable to the environment our activities have become and how quickly we are driving our planet to the brink.

Yet, all is not lost since there is significant new research in the report that offers hope. The LPR points to the actions that can halt and reverse the downward spiral of nature loss. Findings of the report suggest that if we conscientiously combine relentless conservation efforts to protect our wildlife, and initiate urgent action to end habitat loss and deforestation, a positive change can indeed happen. Opting for sustainable farming and food production methods, effectively tackling food waste, and restoring damaged habitats and landscapes are some of the ways that can, according to the LPR, positively ensure that nature is put on a path of recovery by 2030.

In playing its part to reverse nature loss, WWF-Malaysia has on the home-front restored the burnt and degraded Bukit Piton Forest in Sabah, thus allowing for the repopulation of orangutans and their young on the growing trees there. Also in Sabah, our efforts at advocating sustainable values in business entities have prompted a company to set aside 1000 hectares of its plantation as a wildlife corridor to facilitate free movement of elephants and other wildlife within it instead of being kept out by electric fences. The outcome is drastic cost-cutting of damages incurred in the management of human-elephant conflicts over the last three years from half a million ringgit to a negligible two thousand Ringgit.

Conservation and sustainability are inevitably connected in that both ideas are committed to the protection of the natural world, while at the same time, recognizing the role of humans in its destruction. The notion is that if people wish to be saved, then the planet must first be saved. The fact that people depend on the planet’s natural resources such as the forests, oceans, rivers and land for social and economic well-being is reason enough to recognize the importance of wisely using the planet’s resources towards the creation of a fair, sustainable and prosperous society. In Sarawak, progressive timber companies work with local communities to ensure that their supply of resources such as fruits, rattan and sago is not compromised by logging activities. On a larger scale, sustainable efforts include the segregation of watershed forests for wet rice irrigation from logging activities.

It is believed that if the global community diligently adopts the paths to recovery proposed in the LPR, there is a strong possibility that by 2030, we could actually live in a world that has resolved the loss of biodiversity, ended deforestation, eradicated poaching and trafficking of protected species, saved threatened species from extinction, put an end to overfishing, overcome problems of ocean pollution, and put in place an economy that operates in line with the environment’s welfare instead of manipulating it.

On a national level, WWF-Malaysia collaborates with palm oil plantation companies to ensure that sound environmental measures are adopted in their operational plans. As a result, forests are retained, wildlife is protected and waste from mills are retained to generate biogas instead of disposed of into waterways.

Apart from advocating for firm collaborations between governments, charities, businesses, and communities to ensure that the nation’s conservation and sustainable commitments become a feasible reality, WWF-Malaysia also works closely with various ministries and government agencies to advocate for the improvement and implementation of sustainable policies for the nation.

WWF’s sustainable initiatives acknowledge that there is a need for a global coalition of powerful and far-sighted organizations to start taking action for nature; to speak on its behalf and influence decisions made on its behalf and eventually help secure a New Deal for Nature and People. Working in a complementing role with conservation efforts, WWF’s sustainable development goals are seen as an initiative by the people for the people that acknowledge the strong correlation between human development, environment and economy.

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