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says. For ex­­ample, we led the push for a strong set of rules to drive the landmark Paris Agreement forward at last December’s U.N. climate summit in Poland, and we are playing a key role in advancing a new treaty to expand conservation of the high seas, less than 1 percent of which is fully protected. Similarly, NRDC’s advocacy at the Conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species has helped win important protections for imperiled species against poaching and illegal trade. With the conversion of wildlands to farms a

Clockwise from top left: A clearcut swath of the boreal forest in Canada; an endangered grizzly bear in Greater Yellowstone; a clouded leopard, an Asian species classified as vulnerable; an endangered Hawaiian green sea turtle

pre­dicted. “Both reports reflect overwhelming scientific consensus, telling us that if we want to have any hope of passing along a livable planet to our children and grandchildren, we have to do the hard work of making radical change—and doing it now.” In fact, the solutions exist, and many aren’t new, according to Casey-Lefkowitz. “What these reports can do is galvanize urgent action and push the envelope on new ideas. And there are few organizations better positioned to lead that charge than NRDC.” Indeed, NRDC has long been fighting for the adoption of proven solutions to what the U.N. biodiversity report cites as the four leading factors in species loss: changes in land and sea use, from clearing forests for

farmland to overfishing; direct exploitation of species, such as hunting them for food or for the illicit trade in body parts; climate change; and pollution. We continue to wage far-reaching cam­paigns to defend some of the world’s last remaining wild places from being ravaged by commercial interests, whether saving Canada’s vast boreal forest from logging and tar sands extraction or protecting America’s Arctic from Big Oil. And as we do, we’re rallying global support for the “30 by 30” initiative, a bold plan to protect 30 percent of the world’s lands and oceans by 2030. “NRDC has a long track record of successful advocacy at major international forums,” Casey-Lefkowitz

“As the U.N. report makes clear, we need to be strengthening our protections for vulnerable species, not dismantling them.” leading factor in the destruction of natural habitat, it’s imperative that the world also rethink how we grow our food. NRDC is working to transform the United States into a model of more biodiversity-friendly farming by disrupting the destructive grip of Big Ag on farm policy. For example, we are advocating for programs that reward farmers who use practices that support pollinators, microbial diversity and economic resiliency. These practices include diverse crop rotations and the use of cover crops, which provide additional habitat for pollinators, mammals, birds and other species during [Continued on next page.]


all it a five-alarm wake-up call for humankind. Results from the most comprehensive scientific assessment to date of the state of biodiversity on the planet were released in May, and the report landed like a bombshell: More than one million animal and plant species—or one in every eight—are at risk of extinction because of human activity, more than at any other time in history. And much of that imperiled wild­life could disappear in mere decades, well within the average person’s lifetime. The accelerating loss of biodiversity—a global crisis—not only threatens to fundamentally upend the natural world as we know it, but risks disrupting natural systems that are essential to human survival. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever,” says Sir Robert Watson, chair of the United Nations’ intergovernmental scientific panel under whose auspices the sprawling report was produced. “We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.” The old-growth forests that cleanse the air we breathe, the vital wetlands that filter the fresh water we drink, the bees and other wildlife that pollinate the food we eat and what once seemed the inexhaus­tible abundance of our living oceans are all disappearing at an unprecedented and unsustainable rate, one that requires urgent and forceful action to stem the catastrophic loss. The report calls for systemic, “transformative” change at every level, from local to global, to meet the rapidly unfolding biodiversity emergency head on. If you think that sounds daunting, you’re not alone. It’s hard to read the U.N. assessment and “not just want to curl up in a ball,” admits Susan CaseyLefkowitz, NRDC’s chief program officer. “In a way, it’s like déjà vu all over again,” she says, recalling the release last year of the landmark report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that found many of the worst impacts of global warming are likely to arrive far sooner than previously

Profile for NRDC

Nature's Voice Fall 2019  

Nature's Voice Fall 2019  

Profile for nrdc