At UN meeting, Harrison Ford calls for immediate global action to save biodiversity

10/28/2010

Nagoya, Japan – Developed and developing countries must look beyond their national interests and form a global alliance to stop the current environmental crisis, said actor, conservationist and Vice Chair of Conservation International, Harrison Ford, while participating in a major UN meeting being held in Japan. He was accompanied by the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Ahmed Djoghlaf, the Vice Minister of Environment of Japan, Shoichi Kondo, and the President of Conservation International, Russ Mittermeier.

Representatives from 193 governments have gathered at the CBD in Nagoya for the past couple of weeks to try to come up with a global plan to stop the extinction of animals and plants and conserve intact habitats over the next decade. Targets established eight years ago to "significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss" by 2010 were not met at a global level, despite individual progress by some nations.

"This is a critical moment for environmental ministers to work together to set bold ambitious targets to protect nature and the services it provides. Decisions made here will not only impact our planet's environmental health, but the well-being of every person, family, and nation," Ford said just one day before the conclusion of the talks this Friday.

Djoghlaf said: "Harrison Ford's participation at the Aichi-Nagoya Biodiversity Summit is a strong political message addressed by a public icon and citizen of the world, as biodiversity is the responsibility of each and every citizen of the world and each and every country of the world, including the people of the United States of America."

Yesterday, Japan announced here an investment of $2 billion to help developing countries in their conservation efforts. Ford said: "This gives hope that countries can come together to make a critical investment in the future of the planet and humanity."

The purpose of Ford's visit to the CBD was to urge world leaders to increase the coverage of protected areas to effectively stop the destruction of biodiversity. Conservation International is proposing that governments agree to put at least 25 percent of the Earth's land and 15 percent of the oceans under protection by 2020. The proposed level of protection is not a target per country, but would cover specific places worldwide that are known for being home to important species, habitats and genetic resources.

CI's Mittermeier said: "Protected areas are simply the most effective tool that we have for ensuring the long term maintenance of the myriad life forms that share the planet with us. At this point in time, we have only 12.9 percent of Earth's land surface and less than 1 percent of the oceans under protected status. We need much more to cover the critically important priority areas not yet covered and at greatest risk, and still more to ensure the continued flow of ecosystem services essential to human survival. Indeed, taking the latter into consideration we see our targets as a minimum and not a maximum."

"Preserving existing reservoirs of biodiversity is a challenge that we and our political leaders must embrace. We simply will not succeed over the long haul if nature is not healthy," Ford said as he presented a petition, signed by thousands of people in 160 countries, that supports the organization's proposal. "These are everyday citizens who recognize the value of protected areas for the future of our planet and humanity."

Ford also asked the U.S. government to ratify the Convention, which was signed by President Clinton seventeen years ago, but has not been ratified by the Senate. The U.S., Andorra and the Holy See are the only countries in the world that have not ratified the CBD. "The time has come for the United States to step up to the plate. The problem is so big and the time is so short, we have no choice. We have to act and we have to act now," he concluded.

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Photos can be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/bGal1F

For more information, please contact:

In Nagoya:

Patricia Yakabe Malentaqui
pmalentaqui@conservation.org
+ 1 571 225 8345

Asako Isobe
aisobe@conservation.org
080 1022-5889

David Ainsworth
david.ainsworth@cbd.int
+81 80 699 04168

Neil Pratt
neil.pratt@cbd.int
+81-80-6990-4186


In Washington, DC:

Kelsey Rosenbaum
krosenbaum@conservation.org
+1 703 341-2853


Notes for Editors:

Conservation International (CI) - Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity for the well-being of humanity. With headquarters in Washington, DC, CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information about CI's goals and experts attending the CBD visit:
www.conservation.org/cbd

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) - Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 193 Parties, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, a supplementary treaty to the Convention, seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. To date, 159 countries and the European Union have ratified the Protocol. The Secretariat of the Convention and its Cartagena Protocol is located in Montreal. For more information visit:
www.cbd.int