18 May 2021


A new report reveals Australia is at the forefront of a global trend showing hundreds of millions of people all over the world are concerned by biodiversity loss and this number is growing.

Commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature with research and analysis by The Economist Intelligence Unit, “An Eco-wakening: Measuring global awareness, engagement and action for nature”, examines evidence from 2016 to 2020.

Australia exceeds global averages on many key findings relating to public concern for nature.

Globally, online news articles about biodiversity and nature loss grew by 19% between 2016 and 2020.

But in Australia, stories on the same topics increased by an astonishing 407%, from 37,562 articles in 2016 to 190,558 articles in 2020.

Nature-loss and biodiversity conversations have grown globally, with a 65% increase in twitter mentions since 2016.

In Australia, the percentage increase was much higher: nature-loss and biodiversity-related Tweets grew by 168%, from 277,456 in 2016 to 744,419 in 2020.

The report indicates that people all over the world are increasingly aware of the planetary crisis. WWF has dubbed this growing global mood an ‘eco-wakening’.

Consumers are acting on their concerns. In Australia, the popularity of Google searches relating to sustainability and biodiversity in the shopping category surged by a whopping 165%.

Australia sits alongside the UK, the US, Germany and Canada in driving this trend, which is forcing corporations to respond, particularly in the cosmetics, pharmaceutical, fashion and food sectors.

The call for bold, decisive action by governments and business on behalf of the planet and future generations is getting louder and louder.

Between 2018 and 2019 global news media coverage of nature-based protests grew by 103%. In Australia, in the same period, nature protest coverage jumped by a staggering 1199%.

The school strike for climate rallies in September 2019 contributed to the increase. Organisers estimated 300,000 Australians took part in one of the largest protest events in the nation's history.

WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said extreme events have likely influenced the explosion in news stories and tweets about nature-loss in Australia, and the substantial jump in sustainability shopping.

“Given the unprecedented bushfire crisis, it’s understandable these categories were through the roof in Australia compared to global average increases,” Mr O’Gorman said.

“This surge of interest has been driven by so many conservation groups working to raise awareness of nature-loss and the plight of Australia’s wildlife after the fires."

“Reacting to the crisis, WWF-Australia launched Regenerate Australia the largest wildlife and nature regeneration program in the nation’s history."

“However, the response of our governments so far to the crisis is out of step with the level of public concern. Stronger funding and policy commitments are urgently required,” Mr O’Gorman said.

Since 2016, over 159 million signatures for biodiversity related campaigns have been collected globally.

Protests around the world are growing in their strength and frequency, coming together to demand radical action from policy-makers on behalf of the planet and for future generations.

But nature is rarely at the top of the global agenda, even though its loss represents a huge threat to the global economy and our health.

“The results of this research are crystal clear: concern over the impact we are having on the natural world is growing rapidly and particularly in emerging markets, where people are feeling more acutely the impacts of deforestation, unsustainable fishing, species extinction and the decline of eco-systems,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.

He continues: “The science and the economics are clear. The public sentiment is now clear. And - the solutions are clear too. Society is supporting a transformation of our economic and development model towards one that finally values nature as our moral duty to all life on Earth, and for the crucial services it provides to our economy, wellbeing, health and security. This is a truly historic ‘eco-wakening’ and the chance to rebalance our relationship with the planet.”

The report comes ahead of International Day for Biodiversity being held on 22nd May by the UN to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.