Nature and Biodiversity

COP15: These are the latest biodiversity stories you need to read

From rewilding schemes to the destruction of invasive species, these stories will help you learn more about how we can protect biodiversity.

From rewilding schemes to the destruction of invasive species, these stories will help you learn more about how we can protect biodiversity. Image: Unsplash/Hans-Jurgen Mager

Tom Crowfoot
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Future of the Environment

This article is part of: Centre for Nature and Climate

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  • COP15 will take place from 7 to 19 December in Montreal, Canada.
  • Climate change and human interference is causing biodiversity to decline around the world. The international summit offers a chance for world leaders to work together to reverse the decline.
  • From rewilding schemes to the destruction of invasive species, these stories will help you learn more about how we can protect biodiversity.

The United Nations' (UN) COP15 meeting will take place on 7 December to 19 December in Montreal, Canada. Biodiversity loss is one of the world's biggest dangers, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2022.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres explains that "we are losing our suicidal war against nature", therefore this meeting aims to give biodiversity and ecosystems the same international protection as the climate.

Ahead of the summit, these articles will help you understand more about the global state of biodiversity and how we can protect it.

1. 6 charts that show the state of biodiversity and nature loss - and how we can go 'nature positive'

The World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Living Planet Report 2022 has found that wildlife populations have declined by an average of 69% in the past 50 years.

A chart showing the decline in global biodiversity  from 1970 to 2018.
If we are unable to limit warming to 1.5°C, climate change is likely to become the dominant cause of biodiversity loss in the coming decades. Image: WWF

Latin America has shown the greatest regional decline in average population abundance at 94%, while freshwater species populations have seen the greatest overall global decline at 83%, according to the report.

Find out what else the WWF report reveals about the state of biodiversity.

2. 5 ways biodiversity matters to jobs, health and the economy

Akanksha Khatri, Head of Nature Action Agenda at the World Economic Forum explains that nature-positive economic models in key sectors could provide almost 400 million jobs and over $10 trillion in annual business value by 2030.

While the benefits of protecting nature are prosperous, the consequences of ignore it are dire.

More than half of the world’s GDP is at risk due to nature loss, and further encroachment into natural ecosystems increases the risk of future socioeconomic shocks such as pandemics.

Beyond the economic benefits, biodiversity is essential to healthcare. For example, 25% of drugs used in modern medicine are derived from rainforest plants.

There are some four million different kinds of animals and plants in the world. Four million different solutions to the problems of staying alive.

Sir David Attenborough

Read more about the benefits of protecting biodiversity.

3. How biodiversity loss could cause bankruptcy in some countries

A new report from the University of Cambridge has drawn up the world’s first biodiversity-adjusted sovereign credit ratings. These show how ecological destruction can prompt credit rating downgrades and make borrowing costs spiral.

As nature-loss reduces economic performance, it will become harder for countries to service their debt, straining government budgets and forcing them to raise taxes, cut spending, or increase inflation.

Dr. Matthew Agarwala from Cambridge University’s Bennett Institute for Public Policy

This report analysed the credit ratings of 26 nations. If these nations experienced a 'partial ecosystem collapse' then almost half of the 26 nations would increase their risk of bankruptcy by more than 10% under the scenario.

Discover more about how biodiversity loss could cause bankruptcy.

4. Rewilding: letting nature do its own thing

Rewilding schemes involve leaving habitats to regenerate naturally, allowing wildlife to flourish freely. Rewilding can also include reintroducing missing species and setting aside large areas for nature to grow freely, according to Rewilding Britain.

Learn more about how rewilding can improve biodiversity.

5. How gardens can boost biodiversity and help tackle climate change

A campaign by the UK's Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) hopes to provoke community action to make the nation's gardens more sustainable with these ten tips.

1. Use a water butt. Instead of using the mains supply, water butts that capture rainfall can help save millions of litres of water.

2. Rid your garden of paving slabs. Instead, replace the space with perennial plants which help store carbon.

3. Avoid imported flowers. These come with a higher carbon footprint, so grow your own instead.


What is the World Economic Forum doing about nature?

Explore the other top tips from the RHS to make your garden more eco-friendly.

6. These 4 cities are encouraging people to protect biodiversity. Here’s how

More conservation efforts are needed to slow global biodiversity loss.
More conservation efforts are needed to slow global biodiversity loss. Image: Our World In Data

With half of the world's population living in cities, tackling this issue by promoting city-based solutions is a necessity.

The local authority in the Dutch city of Eindhoven is encouraging citizens not to clear away fallen leaves in parks or gardens. Leaves provide useful habitats for insects, as well as reducing water runoff to drainage systems.

In Montreal, local authorities are preserving dead or diseased trees as they provide shelter for species of birds, small mammals and large amounts of organisms.

Find out how other cities are helping to protect biodiversity.

7. 7 new species discovered in 2021

While the world is losing species to extinction, we are also discovering new ones.

Pygmy pipehorse from New Zealand. biodiversity
Pygmy pipehorse from New Zealand. Image: Richard Smith

This pygmy pipehorse was discovered expertly camouflaged in the red coralline algae-covered underwater cliffs off the coast of Northland, New Zealand.

Explore the other new species the world discovered in 2021.

8. Wolves and brown bear numbers are up in Europe, a new report shows

Thanks to conservation efforts in Europe, grey wolf numbers have increased by 1,800% and brown bear numbers have increased by 44% since the 1960s, according to the Wildlife Comeback Report 2022 commissioned by Rewilding Europe.

A chart showing how many species of wildlife have benefited from conservation efforts in Europe. biodiversity COP15
Many species of wildlife are making a comeback in Europe, due to conservation efforts. Image: Our World In Data

Learn more about the environmental benefits of wildlife comeback and why it's a cause for optimism.

9. This interactive map could help you discover a new species

On Earth, as much as 80% of life has still to be found – and then protected for future generations. Scientists have therefore created an interactive map using 32,000 existing species to predict where the next ones might be discovered.

A map of the world showing where new species are most likely to be found.
The interactive map highlights hotspots where new species are most likely to be found. Image: Yale News

Discover where new species are most likely to be found and why this can help us protect them.

10. Here's how two invasive species have cost the world $16bn - and what can be done about it

Invasive species are organisms that are not indigenous, or native, to a particular area. In fact, they are one of the top global causes of species becoming extinct and of declining biodiversity, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

A study has found that the brown tree snake and American bullfrog were the world’s most destructive invasive species between 1986 and 2020, causing $10.3 billion and $6 billion in damage, respectively.

Learn why invasive species are so detrimental to biodiversity and what can be done to solve the issue.

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