It is well established that humanity’s profound impact on Earth has had dire consequences. While humans may be protectors, we are also destroyers.

“There is a popular belief that humans are independent and in the position of controlling the universe. The fact is that humans would not survive if not for the existence of other species,” said Dr. Satyawan Pudyatmoko, Professor in wildlife management from Gadjah Mada University and panellist at this month’s SDG Virtual Talks.

Marking this year’s World Environment Day on June 5, SDG Virtual Talks Vol. 13, focused on the balance between humanity and nature in support of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Amid globalization, growth and development, humanity continues to “burn the library of life,” resulting in a crisis for the world’s diverse ecosystem, particularly its biodiversity.

Biodiversity refers to the variation of all living species on Earth and provides the foundation for the sustainability of the Earth’s ecosystem. It represents the evolving knowledge gained through millions of years of species development. As one of the most vital and complex features of our planet, humanity and human well-being are intimately linked to biodiversity.

“As humans, we must ask ourselves, does biodiversity exist without a purpose, or does it exist because all species, especially humans, depend on it?” Dr. Satyawan continued.

Today, nearly one million species face extinction globally. Illegal wildlife trade is currently the fourth largest illicit crime trade in the world.

“Wildlife crimes are estimated to be worth more than IDR 9 trillion, making it one of the most prominent crimes in Indonesia, along with drug trafficking,” said Nurhamidi, Field Manager at Pelestarian Harimau Sumatera Kerinci Seblat, the special task force under Kerinci Seblat National Park.

Once a species becomes extinct, there is no going back.

The Indonesian Archipelago is one of the most species-rich regions in the world, with some of their most diverse species facing extinction. Sumatran Tigers are especially at risk; fewer than 400 tigers remain globally.

“Indonesia’s ecosystem will feel the devastating impacts of the loss of even the smallest species. Sumatran Tigers play a critical role in our ecosystem; we cannot afford to lose them,” Dr. Satyawan Pudyatmoko asserted.

With its emphasis on youth outreach and mobilization, the SDG Talks event also highlighted the pivotal role of nearly 45 million Indonesian youth aged 15-24 in safeguarding biodiversity to establish a sustainable future.

“Youth are the catalysts for change, especially in filling the gaps for the broad global narratives and discussions regarding conservation,” emphasized Sheherazade, Conservation Science Specialist and President of @Tamboramuda.

“Young people must educate ourselves on the current state of affairs and use our voices to demand positive change to protect the world’s fragile ecosystem,” Aghnia Dima, Project Officer SDF UNDP Indonesia, echoed.

Indeed, education is a critical link that has the potential to propel the involvement of youth in the protection of the environment.

“Education for younger generations is a step towards addressing the challenge of safeguarding our biodiversity,” agreed Ir Wiratno, the Director-General of Conservation, Natural Resources and Ecosystem from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

“Our Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam (KSDA) centers are available in many regions across Indonesia. They are ready to host students, young people, and Indonesian society as a whole,” he continued.

As we continue to move towards a new world order, decisions made today are critical in ensuring that there is a tomorrow.

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Writing by Moreen Gorial

Edited by Ranjit Jose and Suryo Tomi

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