British broadcaster David Attenborough on Wednesday led a campaign by conservation groups for the world to invest $500 billion a year to halt the destruction of nature.
“Our natural world is under greater pressure now than at any time in human history, and the future of the entire planet – on which every single one of us depends – is in grave jeopardy,” Attenborough, 94, said in a news release.
“We still have an opportunity to reverse catastrophic biodiversity loss, but time is running out,” he added.
Environmental group Fauna & Flora International and 130 other organizations want governments to stop investing in fossil fuels and other polluting industries.
“U.N. member states must take the lead in getting ahead of this crisis and putting funding into the hands of those who are best placed to use it – local conservation organizations,” Mark Rose, chief executive of Fauna & Flora International, said.
The world spends an estimated $80-$90 billion on conservation each year, but studies show that hundreds of billions of dollars may be needed to save ecosystems from collapse.
“Humanity is waging war on nature, we need to change our relationship with it,” Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, said.
Britain, Canada and others joined the European Union on Monday in pledging to protect 30% of their land and seas by 2030. U.N. officials hope to secure broad agreement on that target.
“The loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems pose a major risk to human survival and development,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said. “It falls to all of us to act together and urgently turn the Earth into a beautiful homeland for all creatures to live in harmony.”
Attenborough’s new film “A Life on Our Planet” documents the dangers posed by climate change and the extinction of species.