The European Union, the environmentalist and Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio and Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) launched two initiatives on December 16 to better protect the planet worth 34 million euros in 2021.
According to the European Commission, both initiatives – a rapid response to ecosystems, species and communities in case of emergency (Rapid RESCUE) and an initiative to protect the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – are examples of the EU’s commitment to the implementation of the EU Green Deal around the world and GWC’s mission to preserve the diversity of life on earth.
“Biodiversity is threatened worldwide. The ongoing pandemic has only further demonstrated that protecting valuable ecosystems is essential for wildlife to thrive, ”said the Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said. “Our own existence depends on it. I am glad that GWC is working with Leonardo DiCaprio and the European Union to step up our efforts to protect biodiversity and ensure green recreation for people and planet after the COVID-19 crisis, ”she added.
This year has been an extraordinary challenge for the conservation of biodiversity around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic. “This year has shown that we are at a critical turning point for our planet and that we must choose to protect and restore wildlife and ecosystems for their own sake and for our own health,” said DiCaprio. “The current pandemic, the devastating fires in the Amazon, Australia, the Congo, the larger and more frequent hurricanes in the Caribbean and other environmental crises have shown that we need to reset our relationship with nature. I am honored to work with Commissioner Urpilainen, the EU and GWC to set up this fund to implement urgent safeguards around the world, ”added the Hollywood actor.
Global Wildlife Conservation Chief Scientist and CEO for his part Wes Sechrest noted that the planet’s biodiversity supports healthy ecosystems, which are essential to a healthy planet for humans and wildlife. “Only by investing in nature-based solutions, as GWC and the European Commission are doing, can we cope with the twin crises of wildlife extinction and climate change and prevent future pandemics. The EU is leading this global effort, ”he said.
With a budget of EUR 30 million (EUR 10 million in the EU and EUR 20 million in GWC), Rapid RESCUE becomes a rapid response to emerging threats to biodiversity The European Commission said, adding a major focus will be on reducing the impact of future emergencies, such as those caused by the current pandemic, on ecosystems vital to the health of the planet, protected areas and the surrounding vulnerable communities are.
In addition, GWC and the EU will provide EUR 4 million for the conservation of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is the most anti-biodiversity on the African continent. This move will expand the operational capacity of Virunga National Park, support new advances in habitat restoration, and strengthen the park’s role in economic growth, peace and stability in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
GWC will support the park with its technical expertise, especially in the conservation of monkeys and monkeys, and guide scientific and technical progress, for example through a technical expert committee, said the EU Commission, adding that this committee will inform and support the reintroduction is returned to the park by eastern lowland gorillas, an endangered species.
Virunga is home to the famous critically endangered mountain gorilla whose future is again threatened, and more species of birds, reptiles and mammals than any other sanctuary in Africa. The park gained international recognition thanks to a 2014 Oscar-nominated investigative documentary, VIRUNGA, which tells the story of the people who lead the fight to protect the park and the main threats to its very existence. Mr. DiCaprio was executive producer.