Sir Ranulph encounters mermaid at London Zoo

Airbus Bio-Index shows there’s more to do in educating children about nature

17 May 2010 Press Release

Daryl Hannah made a splash at London Zoo today, joining Sir Ranulph Fiennes and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to launch the results of an Airbus survey exploring children’s perceptions of nature. 

The subject is high on the global agenda, with the UNs’ International Day of Biodiversity this Saturday and 2010 designated as the International Year of Biodiversity.

The actress and environmentalist, famed for her award-winning role as mermaid Madison in 1984 fantasy Splash, was in the capital to announce the results of the ‘Airbus Bio-Index’.  The global survey of more than 10,000 children and young people worldwide aged 5-18 has been conducted as part of the aircraft manufacturer’s work with the CBD.

Airbus is backing the CBD’s Green Wave, which at 10:00am on Saturday 22 May will pass through the world’s time zones creating a wave of activity from east to west around the planet.  It is designed to educate young people about the crucial role biodiversity – the rich variety of all life on earth – plays in our lives and our futures.  

The Airbus Bio-Index shows there is work to be done.  The next generation has a reputation for being glued to the virtual world and the survey highlights the implications this has for the future of the real world.  When asked to rank what was most important to them, ten times more children ranked watching TV or playing computer games first compared to those who chose saving the environment (40 percent and 4 percent respectively).  And while species extinction rates are estimated to be up to 1,000 times the natural rate, only 9 percent ranked looking after animals as most important; 15 percent did not know what ‘endangered species’ implied.  

Hannah said:  “Biodiversity loss is a global crisis and it's of crucial importance that we do all we can to nurture our environment back to health.  The Airbus Bio-Index will help inform and empower the future generation of environmental champions to take bold and effective action."

On a positive note, the results show that children still enjoy spending time outdoors with almost a third (30 percent) saying it is their favourite pastime.  Sir Ranulph, himself knows a thing or two about the great outdoors.  And the man considered by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the greatest living adventurer, hopes The Green Wave can help to inspire young people to explore the rich variety of life around them.

One topic which seems to grab the attention of a generation immersed in technology is how the study and imitation of nature’s best ideas can help to solve human challenges.  Biomimicry – biologically inspired engineering – is one of the reasons Airbus is backing the campaign.  

Norman Wood, Aerodynamics and Flow Control Engineer at Airbus, explained:  “At Airbus we see preserving biodiversity as a means of preserving our own source of future innovation.  Our industry has been inspired by nature since Leonardo da Vinci first started drawing planes and helicopters some 500 years ago.  Today, nature itself may hold the key to developing even more eco-efficient solutions to balance the global demand for air travel with a better environment.”

More than 70 percent of those surveyed knew that the aviation industry had been inspired by the natural environment.  And if they could themselves copy one skill from nature, 66 percent would choose to fly like a bird.  Yet when asked which type of animal or plant they would most like to save, only nine percent said they would most like to save birds, with mammals such as snow leopards coming top with 50 percent followed by reptiles with 23 percent.  Only six percent chose plants and less than one percent opted for insects.

Today, the aviation industry recognises that it contributes two percent of all manmade CO2 emissions and is working together to minimise its environmental impact.  Airbus itself continues to invest 80 percent of its R&D in pioneering greener flight to help shape the eco-efficient industry of the future for both a more connected and sustainable world; the aircraft manufacturer says this is not an either/or debate and that the world needs both.  The company’s backing of The Green Wave represents ‘support for those tackling the other 98 percent’ – such as the 17 percent from deforestation, which accelerates biodiversity loss.

News from the latest UN report – the third Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) – is not good.  The study was published ahead of talks designed to formulate new measures to tackle global biodiversity loss to be adopted at October’s Convention on Biological Diversity summit in Japan.  It warned that natural systems that support economies, lives and livelihoods across the planet are at risk of rapid degradation and collapse unless there is swift action to conserve and sustainably use the variety of life on earth.

To participate in The Green Wave on 21 or 22 May visit http://www.greenwave.cbd.int/ or www.cbd.int/2010/countries and find out what is happening near you.  Alternatively you can visit The Green Wave Facebook page to share photos and stories (search ‘Pages’ for ‘Green Wave’) or download a specially created Green Wave Twibbon for use on your Facebook or Twitter profile picture (search http://www.twibbon.com/ for ‘The Green Wave’).


Notes to editors

For more details or to set up interviews please contact:

Emma Boya, +33 (0)6 27 57 55 06, emma.boya@airbus.com

Olivia Holcroft, +44 (0)20 7861 3288 / 07919 990 078, oholcroft@goodrelations.co.uk

Hannah Ashby, +44 (0)20 7861 3861 / 07966 402343, hashby@goodrelations.co.uk


The Airbus Bio-Index

•  The survey, sponsored by Airbus on behalf of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity  is being conducted by SSI (Survey Sampling International), across ten countries, with a sample of 1,000 5 -18 year olds from each country, totalling 10,000 children

•  Participating countries: UK, France, Germany, Spain, USA, Japan, China, Mexico, Singapore, Australia


The CBD’s Green Wave initiative

•  The CBD is a United Nations intergovernmental treaty, whose objectives are the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. The Secretariat of the CBD is provided by the United Nations Environment Programme.

•  2010 is the United Nations’ International Year of Biodiversity. On May 22 2010 (The International Day of Biodiversity), as part of The Green Wave initiative, young people are invited to plant a tree at 10:00 to celebrate biodiversity. This will create a ‘green’ wave of activity that will pass through each of the world’s time zones from east to west.

•  Photos and stories from the moment can then be uploaded to The Green Wave website to create a virtual wave on the internet.

•  Visit http://www.greenwave.cbd.int/


Airbus-specific notes:

•  Airbus believes that growth in air travel is a global need and that the essential social and economic benefits derived from a more connected world can deliver a greener world, if everybody plays their part.

•  Airbus acknowledges the 2% that aviation contributes to global man-made CO2 emissions, but believes that it also has a responsibility to support others in tackling the remaining 98% of CO2 emissions. Deforestation alone, for example, generates nearly 20% of man-made CO2, so Airbus is working with the CBD and using its global outreach to raise awareness of the importance of the need to preserve the variety of life on earth.

•  Biomimicry – the study and imitation of nature’s best ideas to solve human problems - continues to inspire designs for greener flight and a more connected and sustainable world. Losing biodiversity means losing the potential to find innovative solutions to future problems faced by humankind.