The May 2019 IPBES Report into the global state of biodiversity made it abundantly clear that our current patterns of extracting biomass from nature are unsustainable, with up to 1 million species threatened with extinction. The direct exploitation of plants and animals is the second biggest factor driving the extinction crisis, after land use (habitat destruction). Yet since its publication there has been no change in relation to the unrelenting focus on ‘sustainable use’ of wildlife. Even COVID-19 doesn’t seem to have been enough for the industries, businesses and governments desperate to nudge us back into pre-pandemic consumption patterns and business-as-usual to learn. The scale of the inertia is quite staggering.
Nature Needs More decided to dig deeper into the magical claims of the ‘win-win-win’ sustainable use model and highlight how the current institutional settings continue to preference economic growth over both ecological sustainability and social justice outcomes. Our Debunking Sustainable Use Report 2020 focuses on the international trade in endangered wildlife and how the lack of effective regulation under CITES and the tacit tolerance of the illegal wildlife trade combine to ridicule any claims of sustainability.
The story of ‘sustainable use’ starts from a fundamentally flawed assumption – that there can be a win-win-win scenario between economic, ecological and social benefits. Unlimited growth is impossible on a limited planet, so all ‘use’ of nature has to be based on managing the available ‘stock’ for current and future generations. This cannot be done under a capitalist model of private property rights over nature’s resources, it requires a commons management framework. We provide short, medium and long term solutions to reversing the present trends, which are currently driving the catastrophic declines in biodiversity.