GENEVA, June 1 (Xinhua) -- A UN expert warned on Thursday that the world should be alarmed at the accelerating loss of biodiversity on which healthy ecosystems depend.
Speaking ahead of the June 5 World Environment Day, John H. Knox, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, urged all states to do more to fulfill their existent obligations to protect the world's biological diversity from extinction.
He said that while the eyes of the international community are justifiably focused on the future of the Paris agreement on climate change, this year's World Environment Day brings us an opportunity to celebrate our intimate relation to nature.
"We should also be fully aware that we cannot enjoy our basic human rights without a healthy environment," he noted.
According to him, the estimated populations of vertebrate animals have declined by more than half since 1970.
"Nearly one third of natural and mixed World Heritage sites reportedly suffer from illegal poaching, logging and fishing, which have driven endangered species to the brink of extinction and threatened the livelihoods and well-being of communities who depend on them," he added.
He urged world governments to ensure public information and participation in biodiversity-related decisions and provide access to effective remedies for its loss and degradation.
"Park rangers, indigenous peoples and others who put their lives on the line to safeguard natural ecosystems should be recognized as human rights defenders and protected," he noted.