Europe and Central Asia
19 Nov 2015

'We cherish, nurture and protect life... because this is our nature'

Left: David Yarnold (Photo: Camilla Cerea); Right: Patricia Zurita (Photo: BirdLife International)
By Patricia Zurita and David Yarnold

Over time and across cultures, birds have sent us signals about the health of our environment. The canary in the coal mine offered that most precious resource, time – a small window in which humans could escape toxic gasses. Miners no longer use songbirds as early warning systems, but birds are our closest connection to wildlife on the planet and they still tell us about the health of the places people and birds share. Never before has their message – climate change is here and a threat to the survival of birds and people – been as clear or as urgent.

This first-ever global synthesis by the 119-nation BirdLife International Partnership draws on research from multiple disciplines and every continent. The findings are consistent across both: Climate change attacks the natural systems that birds and people rely upon. This synthesis emphasizes solutions to both buy us more time and to build natural resiliency for generations of people to come.

This report highlights the cost efficiency, importance and practical benefits of nature-based solutions that can be implemented now, everywhere. While birds and other wildlife tell us compelling stories about the impacts of climate change, only people can act as nature’s negotiators. We can contribute to a set of solutions that humankind will need to employ if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

We decided to collect and share examples of such solutions now because we are at a critical juncture in the climate change conversation. The 21st Conference of the Parties for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Paris, shines a spotlight on how world leaders plan to help societies adapt to and limit future warming. Technologies to speed up the clean energy transition and policies to reduce carbon emissions will, of course, be critical parts of the response. But nature itself can contribute common sense, locally-appropriate solutions.

Right before this report went to press Paris was wounded by terrorists. For people like us, who strive to protect life in all its forms, the attack on human life is an atrocity that we condemn.

The COP gathering, which aims to build a brighter and safer future for all, is a unique opportunity to emphasize our message: we cherish, nurture and protect life.

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Because this is our nature.

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.