ife on Earth, which originated about 4 billion years ago,1 provides the ever-changing, wondrous whole of nature that makes our planet our home. Worms that tunnel through glacial ice, peeking out to feed at dusk. Mangroves that weave a living wall, bolstering shorelines against wind and wave. The wildebeest that, through its grazing, helps prevent a wildfire.
Biodiversity is the rich variety of living things that, woven together, support and sustain life on Earth. This “fabric of life” encompasses humans and animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms; the variations in individual traits within each species; and the diverse ecosystems they create. The continued health of all life on the planet, including human life, depends on making choices that will protect biodiversity.
Biodiversity today is facing grave threats. Species are disappearing at a rate that far exceeds any seen for millions of years: 1 million species are now threatened with extinction.2 The impacts are felt not only in remote ecosystems but also in the daily lives of many people who are suffering food insecurity, struggling to find clean water, and losing their lands and livelihoods as a result of this decimation. These trends are already threatening the economic stability of nations and regions.3 Protecting biodiversity is a matter of survival. At this moment of crisis, we turn to one urgent question: How can we stop this downward spiral?