TECH4ALL: Protecting Biodiversity for Future Generations
WWF envisions a world where people can live in harmony with nature. To achieve this, we’ve worked for over 50 years in more than 100 countries to promote sustainability and ensure that we leave a sustainable planet for future generations.
Why do we need to protect our planet? Simple. Because since the 1950s everything has undergone a great acceleration, including population, economic development, and transportation.
As a result, we’ve increased our impact on the environment by, for example, CO2 emissions, which has exacerbated global warming; climate change; ocean acidification; and the depletion of fish stocks in many parts of the world’s oceans.
A Planetary Health Check
The WWF produces a health report for our planet every year the Living Planet Index. In the last 50 years, the index has decreased by 52%.
All indicators are showing that our planet is in a very bad way.
For example, the number of freshwater species has decreased by 81% in the last five decades. Clearly, this isn’t sustainable for future generations.
We need to “bend the curve” for the future. We’ve seen the curves for CO2 emissions and losses in biodiversity peak over the last few years. If current trends continue, our generation and our children may be the generation of humans that will witness many species extinguished right in front us.
We are now consuming 1.75 planets.
Earlier this year, we talked with the World Economic Forum about the immediate challenge of ensuring that the global economy works not only for people’s well-being, but also for a sustainable future.
Technology as a Protecting Force
Technology can play – and is playing – an important role in helping boost our conservation efforts. For example, three decades ago the WWF helped introduce an infrared camera in China. Through infrared camera trapping, we were able to better monitor wildlife populations. We can help better prevent illegal poaching and use photos and videos captured by these cameras to inspire the public by highlighting the beauty of the natural environment.
But with a new generation of technology available, we can maybe – really maybe – create a new generation of infrared camera technology that uses AI to help classify animals and send footage to anyone in the world with a mobile device. Anyone can, for example, monitor a giant panda walking through monitoring station 65 in Sichuan province.
Tech for Conversation in Action
Italy: WWF has worked with Huawei in Italy, using AI technology to translate the sound of whales communicating into musical notes, connecting people to the beauty of the underwater world, which normally remains beyond our experience. We can therefore use technology to help to connect the emotions of people with nature.
Australia: WWF also works in Australia using Blockchain technology to improve the traceability of fisheries. Current species we’re tracking include Pacific tuna and Patagonian toothfish, tagging the fish and using Blockchain to monitor where they go – even to the factory where the fish is filleted.
Blockchain can codify this stage and turn into a QR code. When the fillet ends up on your plate, you can scan a code and ensure the fish you’re eating is legal, traceable, and sustainable.
Shanghai: As one of the most important habitats for millions of migratory birds, Shanghai is home to a project where we’re working with scientists to use facial recognition technology to count the number and variety of birds in real time. This can help us predict seasonal changes and migration patterns that communicate the next stopover of these birds to conservationists along the Australia-Asia flyway and thus help us work together.
Enabling Park Rangers
Park rangers are a key cog in the conversation wheel. Consider the work of a park ranger involved in protecting tigers from poaching in Northeast China. Typically the park ranger would need to work many hours per day and likely be stationed in the wild, exposed to danger from wild animals and other natural hazards.
With technology, we can better monitor their well-being and environment, and transmit the data they collect in real time to a database cloud for analytics.
Technology for good. Technology for all. This is extremely important. Huawei believes in technology for all. The WWF believes that people and nature must thrive together. By all, we mean not only humans, but all lifeforms that we share this planet with.
This is a guest post by Lo Sze Ping, Chief Representative and CEO of WWF, China. It is based on an address he gave at the TECH4ALL Summit at Huawei Connect 2019. Click the links to read more about TECH4ALL and to visit the Huawei TECH4ALL minisite.
Lo Sze Ping is an environmentalist in China with rich experience directing both international and local NGOs. He is now CEO of WWF China, and elected member of the Network Executive Team of WWF global network. He has taken leadership and governance roles in Greenpeace China, Friends of Nature, Society of Entrepreneurs and Ecology (SEE), China Youth Climate Action Network (CYCAN), Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA) and has founded two NGOs Forward Works and Greenovation Hub. He has also served advisory roles for 350.org, UNEP, Sustainable Development Council of the Hong Kong Government, and the World Economic Forum.