What on Earth have we done?


What on Earth have we done?

10 May 2019
Eurogroup for Animals
Animal and environment advocates are used to reading upsetting news every day, but this week has seen one of the most devastating announcements ever. Biodiversity is undergoing an unprecedented decline – and it’s directly related to the way we keep animals for food production and trade them for our pleasure.

A landmark report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) finally made clear the true state of utter collapse that our natural world is in today.

Compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributors, the report – the most comprehensive assessment of its kind – assesses change over the past five decades.

Its conclusions are tragic. Nature is declining globally at unprecedented rates. A million species are threatened with extinction, more than ever before in human history.

Why? Surely, by now, that’s obvious. This incredible decline in biodiversity is a direct result of human activity.

The main culprit is change in land and sea use. Next is the direct exploitation of organisms, including hunting and the wildlife trade. Together, these account for more than 50 per cent of the global impact.

Indeed, the demand for live animals as exotic pets or other purposes is implicated in ongoing declines in wild populations of all taxa. The IPBES assessment confirms Eurogroup for Animals’ calls to better regulate the trade in and keeping of exotic animals.

It also says, as we do, that conservation efforts should focus on fighting wildlife trafficking and ensuring that the demand for the trade in wildlife is reduced. The adoption of positive lists of species that can be kept and traded as pets could contribute to reducing the impact of the legal and illegal trade on conservation, while ensuring respect for these animals’ welfare.

In its plea for urgent action on dietary changes toward more plant-based food, the report also echoes our calls for a reduction of meat, dairy, fish and egg consumption by 50% by 2050 and a Common Agricultural Policy with high animal welfare as a core principle. Meat and dairy consumption and intensive livestock farming have well-documented negative impacts on animal welfare, biodiversity and climate change, as well as on human health.

Above and beyond any specific recommendations, though, systemic change is what’s needed. But systemic change means sacrifice. It’s expensive. It’s a hassle. And it demands that we, as humans, change our way of thinking.

But we have to start somewhere. Let’s do what we can right away. The upcoming EU elections offer an important opportunity to change direction. More than 600 candidate MEPs have already pledged to make a difference for animals if they become part of the European Parliament. Make sure they’re the ones you vote for.

Ilaria Di Silvestre, Programme Leader – Wildlife
Tel: +32 (0)2 740 08 24 | i.disilvestre@eurogroupforanimals.org