WWF’s new Living Planet Report has confirmed our worst fears. Freshwater species populations are continuing to plummet — now down 84% on average in the past 50 years. While that shocking statistic tells the story of decades of decline in the overall abundance of freshwater life, it also includes tales of extinction, including this year’s biggest loss — the Yangtze Paddlefish. Sadly, too many other freshwater species are heading for the same fate.
It’s no coincidence that confirmation of the ongoing collapse in freshwater species comes just a couple of months after the UN announced that the world was still way off track in terms of SDG6 — providing water for all. Few people connect the two, but the loss of freshwater biodiversity is the clearest sign that we are not on course to achieve that essential goal. Destroying the freshwater ecosystems that our societies and economies depend on is no pathway to sustainable development.