Human life depends on the earth as much as the ocean for sustenance and livelihood. Plant life provides 80 per cent of the human diet, and we rely on agriculture as an important economic resource and means of development. Forests account for 30 per cent of the earth’s surface, providing habitats to millions of species, serving as sources of clean air and water, and combating climate change.
Today we are seeing unprecedented land degradation, and the loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate. Drought and desertification increase every year, amounting to the loss of 12 million hectares and affecting poor communities across the globe. Of 8,300 known animal breeds, 8 percent are already extinct, and 22 per cent are at risk of extinction.
About 80 per cent of the Arab region is made up of dryland ecosystems, which are particularly vulnerable to converging risks from climate change. Regionally, over 1,000 species are under threat, with a majority critically endangered.
The SDGs aim to conserve and restore the use of terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, drylands and mountains by 2020. Stopping deforestation also helps to mitigate the impact of climate change. Urgent action must be taken to reduce the loss of natural habitats and biodiversity which are part of our common heritage.