International Union for Conservation of Nature Current Affairs - 2020

IUCN adds more than 7,000 to its Red List

International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has added more than 7,000 animals, fish and plants to its endangered Red List. IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species shows that more and more species assessed are being threatened with extinction. It also warned against mankind’s destruction of nature that is driving species to brink of extinction at an unprecedented rate.

Key Highlights of update to IUCN Red  List

IUCN has now assessed over 1,05,000 species worldwide, around 28,000 of which risk extinction. Therefore, highlighting that nature is declining at rates unprecedented in human history.

It shows that every 5th species is threatened with extinction

While each group of organisms face specific threats, human behaviour which includes overfishing and deforestation, was biggest driver of plunging/rapidly declining populations of species.

Most Imperilled Marine Families on Earth: includes Wedgefishes and giant guitarfishes, which are known collectively as Rhino Rays due to their elongated snouts.

False Shark Ray is on brink of extinction after overfishing in waters off of Mauritania, a country in Northwest Africa saw its population collapse by 80% in last 45 years.

It brings out an alarming rate of decline of freshwater and deep sea species such as over 50% of Japan’s endemic freshwater fishes are under extinction.

Concern: More than 500 deep-sea bony fish and molluscs have been added to list for 1st time. This poses something of a conservation conundrum as space these species inhabit is 1,000 metres beneath surface that is often beyond national boundaries.

7 Primate species are closer to extinction on new Red list. It includes Roloway Monkey of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, with fewer than 2,000 individuals left in wild.

Main Drivers: of this decline are loss of free flowing rivers and severe habitat loss due to increasing agricultural and urban pollution.

Way Ahead

It would be more beneficial that human beings wake up to the fact that conserving nature’s diversity is in our interest.

According to global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011-2020)’s Target 12, the extinction of known threatened species has to be prevented by 2020 and target also includes an improvement in the conservation status of species.

About International Union for Conservation of Nature

It is an international organization founded by Julian Huxley on 5 October 1948 in Fontainebleau, France.

It works in field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources which involves data gathering, education, field projects, research and analysis, and advocacy.

Headquarters: Gland, Switzerland

Members: 1300

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

It was founded in 1964.

It is world’s most comprehensive inventory of global conservation status of biological species.

It uses a set of criteria to evaluate extinction risk of thousands of species/subspecies.

Headquarters: United Kingdom (UK)

Parent organization: IUCN

Denmark’s Inger Andersen takes over as UNEP’s Executive Director

Denmark’s Inger Andersen recently took charge as the new Executive Director (ED) of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). She will hold the designation for period of 4-years.

About Inger Andersen

Inger is a Danish economist and environmentalist with over 30 years of experience in international development economics, environmental sustainability and policy-making. Now as ED of UNEP she brings to the role a passion for conservation and sustainable development.

Nomination: She was nominated for the ED post by United Nation’s Secretary-General (UNSG) Antonio Guterres and approved by UN General Assembly (UNGA) in February 2019.

Succeeded: She took over the charge from Joyce Msuya of Tanzania, who served as acting head of UNEP since late 2018. Msuya will now continue as Deputy Executive Director.

Previous Appointments:

IUCN- She has served as Director General of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) between January 2015 and May 2019.

World Bank– Before joining IUCN, she held various leadership roles at World Bank (WB) such as- served as WB’s Vice President of Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Vice President for Sustainable Development and Head of Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers Fund Council (IARCFC).

Even before joining World Bank, she worked at the UN for over 12 years.

About UN Environment Programme

It was founded by Maurice Strong (UNEP’s 1st director) and was established as a result of United Nations Conference on Human Environment (or the Stockholm Conference) on 5 June 1972.

It is headquartered in Nairobi (capital of Kenya) and also has 6 regional offices and various country offices.

Function: It is a UN agency that provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for environment and is also responsible for coordinating UN’s environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices.