The ongoing destruction of life-supporting ecosystems such as coral reefs and rainforests means humans risk living in an “empty world” with “catastrophic” consequences for society, according to Mrema, who is responsible for spearheading a Paris-style agreement for nature that will be negotiated this year.
“People’s lives depend on biodiversity in ways that are not always apparent or appreciated. Human health ultimately depends on ecosystem services: the availability of fresh water, fuel, food sources. All these are prerequisites for human health and livelihoods,” she told the Guardian in her first major interview since taking up the role.
In May last year, the world’s leading scientists warned that nature is disappearing at a rate tens to hundreds of times higher than the average for the past 10m years. Experts have previously warned that humans are driving the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history, cautioning there is a short time to act.