If I ever get depressed about the state of the world’s wildlife, I remember that we are part of an extraordinary family of organisations dedicated to save wildlife around the world: BirdLife International – the global partnership for nature and people.

The BirdLife International partnership gives both reassurance and confidence that, even when the pressures on the natural world are so great, together we can make things better.

Reassurance, because I know there 121 national organisations within the partnership, supported by 10 million people, dedicated to saving nature and confidence because the Partnership has a track record of protecting some of the most important sites on the planet, recovering globally threatened species while engaging and working alongside local communities.

Last week, 107 of BirdLife’s 121 partners (including the RSPB) met in Belgium to review progress and to map out plans for the next four years.

We heard that, over the past five years, we have collectively worked on 483 threatened species and since 2000 have reduced the extinction risk of 25 species (including St Helena plover, Asian crested ibis and Lear's macaw). Given that 1 in 8 of the world’s birds is globally threatened, we have our work cut out. But, BirdLife’s long term focus on identifying (>15,000) and then protecting the world’s most important areas for birds and other wildlife means that we know where to focus effort. And, the Partnership tackles the main threats to nature by seeking to reform agriculture, tackling climate change, stopping illegal killing of wildlife and addressing the problems posed by the introduction of non-native invasive species.

It was the first time that I had been to a Global Partnership meeting and I enjoyed mixing with partners from the Americas, Asia, Africa, the Pacific and, of course, friends from Europe. Many of these partners have received support from the RSPB over the past three decades and we continue to work closely with partners on some of our most successful conservation programmes such as Gola in Sierra Leone and Liberia, vultures in India and Nepal or albatrosses in countries as diverse as Namibia, South Africa, Taiwan and Argentina.

The RSPB, of course, wants to grow our own impact in the UK and in our 14 Overseas Territories. But we also want to play our part in building the collective capacity of Birdlife so, together, we become a powerful, effective and unstoppable civil society force to tackle the global biodiversity crisis.

This is why when I say that I work for the RSPB, it means I also work for BirdLife.

In the short term, our Partnership is focusing on 2020.  We want governments around the world to step up action for nature now and to go to the UN Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Beijing with an improved track record and prepared to agree an ambitious action plan to restore nature over the next decade.   

The stakes couldn't be higher.  Some say we already experiencing the sixth mass extinction event, while the World Economic Forum has reported (see below) that five of the greatest risks to humanity stem from environmental decline.

When we meet again as a family in 2022, we'll know if world leaders have gripped the seriousness of the challenge.  

Our job, is to make sure they do.

  • I think Birdlife International is a great organisation and a great concept for world wide conservation. The only way we are going to prevent extinctions and bring back wildlife from the brink is by working together around the world as a team. Th RSPB has so much to offer this world wide organisation both technically and organisationaly. In addition our pounds sterling  in some of the poorer countries can still go quite a long way. Nothing but the fullest support Martin. Keep it up.