Scientists have warned that a million species are at risk of extinction due to human activity, a new UN report stated.
Experts said the destruction of wildlife and damage to nature could pose a critical threat to human well-being as the issue relates to food, pollination and clean water.
The global assessment has taken 150 leading experts from 50 countries three years to draw thousands of pieces of scientific evidence and government information.
It looks at he causes of wildlife loss, its impacts on people and how it affects efforts to reduce poverty, put the world on a sustainable development path and tackle climate change.
Sir Robert Watson, leading British scientist and chairman of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) said the evidence of the problem was ‘incontestable’.
He said: “Our destruction of biodiversity and ecosystem services has reached levels that threaten our well-being at least as much as human-induced climate change.”
He also urged the public to protect nature and secure a more sustainable future due to the ‘narrowing options and closing window of opportunity to act’.
It is hoped the report will prompt global action to protect wildlife and habitats around the world.
Pointing to the world’s first comprehensive deal to tackle climate change, the Paris Agreement struck in the French capital in 2015, Sir Robert called for the report’s publication to start a “Paris moment” for nature.
It has been finalised in Paris ahead of its publication, and will lay out a number of scenarios for the future based on decisions taken by governments and policymakers over the coming years.
The study will be used as the basis for negotiations on new targets to tackle wildlife losses from 2020, with calls from environmental group WWF to create a new “global deal for nature and people”, similar to the Paris Agreement.
Greenpeace UK’s executive director John Sauven said: “This report is set to be an urgent wake-up call for governments and corporations to stop turning our land into a chemically intensive monoculture and start a process that enables us to live alongside nature.
“The UK government urgently needs to play its part by restoring our peatlands, planting millions of trees, providing ocean sanctuaries around our coast and supporting a shift from meat and dairy to healthy, plant-based meals.”