May. 10, 2016
New IUCN-Toyota partnership to expand knowledge of threats to global biodiversity
- Toyota to support deeper understanding of threats to biodiversity and global food supplies through a 5-year partnership
- Significant step to achieve IUCN's goal of doubling the number of species assessed by 2020 painting a more comprehensive picture of the state of global biodiversity
- Key project in initial phase of Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050
Gland, Switzerland, 10 May 2016 (IUCN) The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) today announced a five-year partnership to provide funding to broaden the scope of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. This will significantly increase knowledge on the extinction risk of more than 28,000 species, including many that are key food sources for a significant portion of the global population.
With our planet experiencing extinctions at the fastest rate in its history, IUCN and Toyota believe that there has never been a greater need to understand the current status of the species upon which our survival depends.
This new knowledge will provide a roadmap to guide conservation―concrete action which could positively affect the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Toyota's support for the IUCN Red List is the first project to preserve species to be implemented under the company's scheme to reduce the environmental impact of automobiles, the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050. This year alone, the company will provide grants amounting to approximately US$ 1.2 million toward the project.
"The Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 addresses not only climate change, but also biodiversity. They are two sides of the same coin which can't be dealt with separately," says Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General. "This generous grant from Toyota will enable our Red List researchers to take a big leap towards reaching our goal of assessing 160,000 species by 2020. This would also help IUCN's work in supporting the implementation of the Sustainability Development Goals adopted last year by all the members of the United Nations, particularly the Zero Hunger goal."
Didier Leroy, Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Corporation says "When tackling threats to the global environment, it is important to act early and boldly with concrete steps that will make a difference in people's lives. We did it in 1997 with Prius, and more recently with the hydrogen fuel cell Mirai. But protecting the environment is not just about CO2 and emissions: biodiversity is equally important to human lives. By entering this partnership with IUCN, we are very proud to take an additional step toward the challenge of establishing a future society in harmony with nature."
The IUCN Red List assesses the risk of extinction of wild species based on past, present and projected threats. To date, 79,837 species have been assessed and more than 23,000 have been found to be threatened with extinction. The collaboration with Toyota will enable at least 28,000 more species to be assessed over the next five years.
"By doubling the scope of The IUCN Red List, it will become a more complete 'barometer of life'," says Global Director of IUCN's Biodiversity Conservation Group, Jane Smart. "Toyota's grant will enhance the Red List's invaluable role in helping determine conservation policies; tracking progress toward reducing biodiversity loss; providing data for scientific research; and raising public awareness about species."
Toyota is keenly aware of the importance of biodiversity in achieving sustainability, and has taken substantial steps to preserve and support plant and animal species around the world. In order to address these and other key environmental issues, the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 was announced in October 2015. The program aims to reduce the negative impacts associated with automobiles to as close to zero as possible, whilst simultaneously making positive impacts on society. In order to help establish a future society in which humans live in harmony with nature, Toyota plans to globalize its long-running environmental grant program, and to create environmental preservation projects in collaboration with organizations that engage in such activities on a global scale.
IUCN experts have chosen to focus much of the newly funded research on the populations of plants and fish that billions of people depend on as a vital source of food. These will include species of wild rice and wheat that are crucial to food security because they are the source of genetic material used to increase the yield, fertility and resistance to disease of staple crops produced by farmers across the world.
Additionally, marine fish, such as sardines, pilchards, sole and plaice will be assessed. They are not just a source of food for billions the world over, but catching and processing them also provides work for an estimated 200 million people worldwide.
The new grant will also be directed to work assessing other economically important plants, fungi, freshwater fish, reptiles, and invertebrates such as dragonflies, as well as upgrading the web platform used by more than 3.5 million people a year to access data on The IUCN Red List. Furthermore, the grant will support IUCN in carrying out activities to improve awareness about biodiversity.
IUCN is a membership Union composed of both government and civil society organisations. It harnesses the experience, resources and reach of its 1,300 Member organisations and the input of some 15,000 experts. IUCN is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (or The IUCN Red List) is an invaluable resource to guide conservation action and policy decisions. It is a health check for our planet―a Barometer of Life. It is the world's most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of plant, animal and fungi species. It is based on an objective system for assessing the risk of extinction of a species should no conservation action be taken.
Founded in 1937, Toyota is a global automotive company with production in 29 countries and sales in more than 170 countries.
Press Conference by IUCN and Toyota
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I am Dr Jane Smart, Director, Global Director of IUCN's Biodiversity Conservation Group.
I am delighted to be here today to celebrate the start of what will be a long lasting relationship between IUCN and Toyota to provide critical knowledge that will lead to action to conserve biodiversity.
As Inger Andersen mentioned, our planet is facing an extinction crisis―the fastest ever seen in its history. To protect the rich diversity of species on which we depend, it is essential to understand their current status.
We have already assessed more than 79,837 species on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This is the most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of wild species. It tells us that more than 23,000 have been found to be threatened with extinction. An extremely disturbing picture. Yet, this is just the tip of the iceberg. More than 1.8 million species have been described.
We cannot assess them all―but we urgently need more knowledge on more of them - particularly on those species that are critical to food security. We therefore aim to increase the number of species assessed by 2020 to 160,000―to just over double the current number.
Our goal is to make The IUCN Red List a more complete "barometer of life"―to catalyse action driven by information and analysis. The IUCN Red List is 'the starting point of conservation policy and action.
Let's think about food for a minute.
80% of our calorie intake comes from just 12 dominant agricultural crops and 50% of these calories come from just the three big grasses: wheat, maize and rice.
And we now live in a world where climate change is affecting the way our food grows. The key to finding new crops that can adapt to warmer and different climates is to conserve the relatives of these crops in the wild. This is because these wild relatives are the source of genetic material used to develop new varieties of crops.
To do this we need more information on the conservation status of these crop wild relatives. We need to know their status―on The IUCN Red List―the starting point of conservation action.
If these crops became extinct there would be huge impact on food security and livelihoods. Yet little is known about the state of these crop wild relatives what actions we need to take to not only protect them but to enable them to thrive. The name 'Toyota' means plentiful rice! We have chosen to focus much of the research being funded by Toyota on plants such as wild rice, wild wheat, other crop wild relatives. We are also focussing on marine fish such as sardines, pilchards and sole because they are a source of food for billions the world over, and catching and processing them also provides work for an estimated 200 million people worldwide. Additionally, over the 5 year period we will be assessing other economically important plants, fungi, freshwater fish, reptiles, and invertebrates such as dragonflies…… as well as upgrading the web platform used by more than 3.5 million people a year to improve access to the vital data on The IUCN Red List.
The vision that has been presented by Toyota Motor Corporation in its Environmental Challenge 2050, Challenge to Zero and Beyond, is extremely ambitious. IUCN applauds Toyota for not only this Vision but the real plans to achieve it.
As an environmentalist who has been working for over 30 years in the field I am not easily impressed, but this is impressive!
The vision that has been presented is mostly focusing on CO2 reduction―which is a climate change-related challenge―critical for the future of our planet. However conserving biodiversity is equally critical.
Climate change and biodiversity are two sides of the same coin. Not many companies appreciate this linkage―but we see that Toyota does. This is why: if we destroy habitats such as forests and peatlands we release CO2 into the atmosphere. If we keep them where they are, and manage them well they will keep on soaking up that CO2. Thus, protecting biodiversity goes hand in hand with the target of reducing CO2 and ameliorating climate change.
All parts of the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 Action Plan are impressive. They are seeking to not only reduce CO2 in their cars but also in the making and eventual disposal of those cars. They are also seeking to significantly reduce their footprint across their whole supply chain. This includes;
- Zero CO2 emissions for new vehicles, product life cycle, and even production plants;
- Putting in place measures to minimize and optimize water usage;
- Establishing a recycling-based society.
In addition, though Challenge 6 of its Environmental Challenge, Toyota is taking a leadership role for both avoiding habitat destruction and putting the conservation, management and restoration of biodiversity at the centre of its plans.
The generous grant to support the assessment of around 28,000 species for The IUCN Red List is the first project to be launched under Challenge 6 and we at IUCN are extremely happy and proud of this partnership to protect biodiversity.
IUCN hopes that vision and leadership shown by Toyota will inspire other companies in the motor industry and beyond. If other businesses were working towards similar visions, we really could eventually live in harmony with nature. What a different world we would see in 2050!
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen. My name is Didier Leroy, and I am Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Corporation.
Let me first thank the reporters and journalists for being here today. Also… I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the international organisations and NGOs… for sparing your precious time to attend this announcement. Many people outside of Japan… including many journalists… often assume that Toyota is based in Tokyo. But it's not the case.
In fact… our company is based in Aichi prefecture … near Nagoya. Aichi Prefecture is originally a very rural and agricultural province… and our corporate values are rooted in this rural history.
Aichi Prefecture is also the place where in 2010… the United Nations' Convention on Biological Diversity set out its Strategic Plan for 2020.
This plan included the goal "to address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss… by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society".
This is very fitting… but it is a coincidence. There are many additional reasons for Toyota to support the IUCN and its efforts to identify the species that are critical to global biodiversity.
Since its foundation, Toyota has addressed environmental issues as a key challenge … with the idea that our company's actions should contribute to the development of a sustainable society.
This is what led us… in the 1990s… to plan for mobility in the 21st century.
We realised that we needed to create environmentally-friendly vehicles… and sell them on a large scale… to have a true beneficial impact on the environment. This initiative gave birth to the famous Toyota Prius… and to the 8.5 million hybrid vehicles we have sold until today… saving more than 60 million tons of CO2.
Twenty years later… we are aiming for a zero-emission future by launching the first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell sedan… the Mirai… which means "future" in Japanese. We strongly believe in the need to diversify energy sources and lower our dependence on fossil fuels. And we think hydrogen has a big role to play to achieve this goal.
Of course… today… there is still a very limited hydrogen infrastructure. We know this is just the beginning. But we believe it is our responsibility to take the lead now… for a better future.
When it comes to protecting our planet… we know it will also take time to achieve the targets the world needs to reach… and that various aspects are completely inter-linked.
In October last year… we announced the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050.
Of course… as a car maker… we should focus on global warming and air pollution.
To this end… our first three challenges are about minimizing our impact.
But that is not enough. We also want to have a net positive impact… meaning… we want to create value for society beyond providing clean mobility. So… we added three more challenges… that are focused on resources which are important to the world.
Through what we call "Challenge Number 6"… we aim to establish a future society in harmony with nature.
That is why we are here today… side by side with IUCN.
As part of that… Toyota has decided to help the IUCN inventory the species that are important to biodiversity… and to global food supplies.
As Director General Andersen and Dr Smart explained, the global environment remains in a critical situation.
And if we don't start acting now… we will never be able to have an impact by the time we need to.
And I must admit… in this area… sardines…soles… and wild rice plants… are more important than cars.
Despite the various biodiversity activities to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets 2020… we are currently in a tight spot and risk not being able to achieve the target.
This brings me to the second reason why we are here today.
When we looked at the IUCN's Red List… it really spoke to us at Toyota. We are a fact-based… data-driven company.
I joined Toyota in 1998… because I wanted to understand why it was such a different and successful company… especially in manufacturing.
To make high quality cars… our obsession is to identify problems… quantify the gap… and find solutions to close that gap… systematically. At Toyota… we often say… "if you don't have a problem… you have a problem!"
We also believe in checking the facts… right where they are happening… in order to grasp the correct picture of what is happening on the shop floor. In Japanese… we call it "genchi genbutsu".
Assessing the gap is exactly what IUCN has been doing with the Red List.
Without the knowledge of this barometer of life… it would be impossible for other NGOs… governments… and society… to protect and restore biodiversity. We want to be a small part in that effort.
In 2016… we will provide a grant for this project, and we will continue supporting the organization at similar levels for the next five years.
This should enable the IUCN to increase the number of species in their assessment by 28,000 … bringing them significantly closer to their goal of having 160,000 species on the list by 2020.
Furthermore… we will consider launching other nature conservation projects around the world in collaboration with other international organisations and NGOs.
Through the work of IUCN and our collaboration on biodiversity… we hope that the world will one day… be a plentiful rice field again.
Thank you very much.