The Earth’s biodiversity is vital to us all but it is now under increasing threat. Michael Marshall introduces and compiles a list of the scientists, business leaders and organisations who are taking action.

 

Saving the world’s endangered species is one of the best things we can do to protect our lifestyles and ensure that our species thrives. Across the world, many organisms are in decline, their populations falling and their habitats shrinking. Insects, for example, are estimated to be declining by 0.92 per cent a year, which amounts to a fall of one quarter every 30 years. That is a steep fall.

 

Why should we care? One reason is that some insects, such as butterflies, are thought to be beautiful or interesting and we would miss them. But what about the insects we are less keen on? Wasps sting us and ruin barbecues and it is tempting to think we would be better off without them. But wasps are predators, and much of their prey consists of pests that damage our crops. Without wasps, these pests would deplete our food supply.

 

This is an example of what ecologists call an ‘ecosystem service’, which describes something an organism does that benefits us. Some of these are obvious. For example, many organisms are sources of food. But others are more subtle. Whales often feed deep underwater but defecate near the surface. This fertilises the upper layers of the ocean, triggering phytoplankton blooms that remove carbon dioxide from the air and slow climate change.

 

The scale of these ecosystem services is staggering. A 2011 study put their global value at $125 trillion per year. That year, the total value of the world economy was $73 trillion – so the ecosystem services were worth almost twice as much. By destroying them, we are harming ourselves. This leads us to a dramatic conclusion – that while preserving biodiversity requires a huge effort ($76 billion per year just for land animals, by one estimate), it would be worth it because we would all benefit.

 

To succeed, we will have to pay more attention to the world’s leading defenders of biodiversity – among them, the 40 leaders, doers and philanthropists below.

 

Michael Marshall is a science journalist writing about biodiversity and related matters for publications including New Scientist and Scientific American.

 

Scientists & Experimenters
 

ANNE LARIGAUDERIE

Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
 

French ecologist who studied the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, and now works to link conservation science and policy.


 

LOUISE VET
Former director of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO)


Biologist who studies ecological communities and works to make the economy and environment benefit each other rather than competing.

 


TIM FLANNERY
Chief Councillor, Climate Council


Australian biologist who has discovered many new species of mammal and is now studying how ecosystems can slow climate change.

 

 

PETER DASZAK

President, EcoHealth Alliance


Expert on disease ecology, focusing on how environmental harms like deforestation can drive diseases to spread from animals to humans.

 

 

DAVE GOULSON

Professor of Biology (Evolution, Behaviour and Environment), University of Sussex
 

British ecologist who has studied the impacts of pesticides such as neonicotinoids on pollinating insects, founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust

 

 

CRISTINA MITTERMEIER
Co-founder, SeaLegacy


Biologist and photographer, who founded both the International League of Conservation Photographers and SeaLegacy to raise the profile of conservation.

 

 

DAVE MECH

Senior Research Scientist, US Geological Survey

 

American biologist specialising in wolf behaviour who disproved the idea of wolf ‘alphas’, and is a leading figure in carnivore conservation.

 

 

MARTEN SCHEFFER
Professor of Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management, Wageningen University

 

Dutch ecologist studying how ecosystems undergo sudden shifts in response to human pressure, and how to avoid these tipping points.

 

 

PURNIMA DEVI BARNAM
Founder, Hargila Army
 

Indian wildlife biologist focused on saving the threatened greater adjutant stork, by means of her all-female grass-roots conservation group.

 

 

KRITHI KARANTH

Chief Conservation Scientist and Executive Director, Centre for Wildlife Studies, Bengaluru

 

Scientist specialising in the human dimensions of conservation. She is also a faculty member at Duke University and India’s National Centre for Biological Sciences.

 

Business Leaders

 


VIRGINIE HELIAS

Chief Sustainability Officer, Procter & Gamble

 

French brand marketer who is driving P&G’s move towards a circular economy approach to manufacturing by making recycled products ‘irresistible’.

 

 

YVON CHOUINARD
Founder, Patagonia

 

His outdoor clothing company offers free product repairs, and donates a percentage of profits and sales to grass-roots environmental groups.

 

 

EYAL SHOHAT

Chief Executive Officer, SodaStream International


The company Shohat leads is trying to reduce plastic waste, which can harm marine species, by promoting its reusable bottles.

 

 

EMMANUEL FABER

Chief Executive Officer, Danone


This multinational food company is part of a global alliance to promote regenerative agriculture, reduce monoculture and restore damaged habitats.

 

 

ALAN JOPE

Chief Executive Officer, Unilever


This multinational has won environmentalist plaudits for its ten-year Sustainable Living Plan and will announce a new version this year.
 

 

THOMAS BUBERL

Chief Executive Officer, AXA


The insurance corporation that Buberl leads doubled the size of its biodiversity and climate impact fund to $350 million in 2020.
 

 

ROBERTO DE OLIVEIRA MARQUES

Chief Executive Officer, Natura &Co


Marques drove the company’s Commitment to Life for 2030, which promised to grow its Amazon preserve to three million hectares.
 

 

GUO GUANGCHANG
Chairman and Executive Director, Fosun International


Chinese businessman who supported the 2020 International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Call to Action on biodiversity, demanding governments establish policies to reverse nature loss.
 

 

SHINTA WIDJAJA KAMDANI
Chief Executive Officer, Sintesa Group


With strategic investments, Sintesa is implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in Indonesia, including the building of an eco-tourism business and generating renewable energy.
 

 

JEAN-PAUL AGON
Chairman, L’Oréal


Under Agon, L’Oréal has cut its water use and promised that none of its products will be linked to deforestation.

Philanthropists & Non-Governmental Organisations 

 


ELIZABETH MREMA
Executive Secretary, UN Convention on Biological Diversity

 

Tanzanian lawyer who protected migratory animals and in 2020 became the first African woman to head the secretariat governing global conservation.

 

 

JONATHAN BARNARD
Chief Executive, World Land Trust

 

Barnard worked in bird conservation before taking over this charity, which buys and protects land in Africa, South America and Asia.

 

 

GINA McCARTHY
Former President, Natural Resources Defense Council

 

The NRDC has significantly influenced US environmental law, and McCarthy is now also the first White House National Climate Advisor.

 

 

DANIEL KATZ

Board chair and Co-founder, Rainforest Alliance

 

The organisation Katz co-created at the age of 24 has led the way in sustainable forestry, green agriculture and tourism.

 

 

INGER ANDERSEN

Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme


Previously Director-General of the IUCN, in her role at UNEP she is a passionate advocate of action on climate change and joint action on biodiversity.

 

 

ANDREW SHARPLESS
Chief Executive Officer, Oceana


Leader of the largest conservation organisation dedicated to the ocean, which has helped protect nearly four million square miles of habitat.

 

 

ZHANG XINSHENG
President, International Union for Conservation of Nature

 

Xinsheng oversees the IUCN, which is most famous for producing the Red List of Threatened Species that tracks extinction risk.

 

 

KIM CARSTENSEN

Director General, Forest Stewardship Council

 

After years at WWF, Carstensen heads an international organisation that works to ensure all forests are managed sustainably.

 

 

ANDREA CROSTA
Executive Director and Board Member, Earth League International

 

Crosta combined his expertise in conservation and high-end security technologies to create WildLeaks, the first whistle-blower site for wildlife crime.

DILYS ROE

Principal Researcher and Team Leader (Biodiversity), Natural Resources, International Institute for Environment and Development


Roe specialises in the human element of conservation, such as helping engage local communities in halting the illegal wildlife trade.

 

 

GORDON AND BETTY MOORE

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation


The pair have given over $1.6 billion to environmental conservation, including helping conserve over 170 million hectares of the Amazon rainforest.
 

 

HANSJÖRG WYSS

The Wyss Foundation


Swiss philanthropist who announced in 2018 that he would donate $1 billion to land and ocean conservation over 10 years.
 

 

HE QIAONV

Founder, Beijing Orient Landscape & Environment Co.


Chinese landscape architecture entrepreneur who in 2017 pledged to give $1.5 billion towards conservation, possibly the largest conservation donation ever.
 

 

ANNE G. EARHART
Founder, Marisla Foundation


American oil heiress whose charitable organisation, founded in 1986, principally funds environmental causes such as ocean conservation and clean energy regulation.
 

 

JEFFREY SKOLL

Founder, Skoll Foundation


The first president of eBay, Skoll through his foundation aims to stop deforestation, improve water management and restore ocean ecosystems.
 

 

KRISTINE TOMPKINS

Co-founder, Tompkins Conservation


Former CEO who helped establish 11 national parks and two marine reserves in Chile and Argentina, protecting 14.2 million acres.
 

 

JANE GOODALL

Founder, Jane Goodall Institute


Arguably the world’s most famous primatologist for her studies of chimpanzees, and a campaigner for conservation that centres on people’s needs.
 

 

GEORGE MONBIOT
Journalist
 

Combining investigative journalism and activism, Monbiot has campaigned against deforestation and for rewilding.
 

 

ADITI MAYER

Freelance photojournalist


US-based journalist advocating for sustainable fashion that has a minimal impact on the environment and does not exploit its employees.
 

 

PRINCE WILLIAM

Duke of Cambridge


The Prince has campaigned against the illegal wildlife trade, and is one of the founders of the annual Earthshot Prize.

 

This article first appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of LUX Magazine. This issue features in the third in a series of Deutsche Bank Wealth Management/LUX supplements about our ocean and its importance to both the environmental and economic wellbeing of the planet. 


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