Global deal to save biodiversity a key step in preventing extinctions and conserving critical habitats

10/29/2010

Plan agreed by world leaders in Japan foresees increase in protected areas on land and sea and reaches a landmark agreement on Access and Benefit Sharing

Nagoya, Japan – The new global deal to protect nature agreed at the Conference of the Parties (COP10) of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Japan today represents a critical step in slowing the current extinction crisis and ensuring that developing countries and their indigenous traditional peoples benefit from the natural wealth harbored in their forests and oceans, said Conservation International today.

Representatives from 193 governments participating in the CBD in Nagoya for the past two weeks agreed on a global action plan to prevent the extinction of threatened animals and plants and conserve intact habitats over the next decade. The 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, but this new agreement offers more hope and a much more comprehensive plan.

"This conference must be viewed as a success and a major global achievement. We were able to solve the key issues that were blocking the negotiations and ended up with a strategic plan with 20 targets to protect biodiversity over the next decade. Countries were able to come together as a global community and look beyond their national agendas to focus on the future of life on Earth and its essential role in human development and poverty alleviation. We were optimistic from the beginning and are happy with the end result," said Russ Mittermeier, President of Conservation International, who followed the negotiations from the beginning of the conference.

He added: "This agreement comes at a critical time as the pressures on the environment are growing fast and the responses have been too weak. It is especially timely in light of the UN climate talks in Cancun coming up in a month, and many of the countries at the CBD highlighted the needed for greater collaboration between these two conventions."

In particular, Conservation International is pleased with the target to increase protected areas coverage by 2020 – 17 percent of the land surface of the planet and 10 percent of the marine realm. "Protected areas are the most effective tool available to us to protect biodiversity. Our goal in Nagoya was to get 25 percent on land and 15 percent in marine, and we still believe that much higher targets are necessary to maintain the full range of critical ecosystem services essential for human well-being. We are currently at 13 percent. The 17 percent target calls for special emphasis on areas of greatest importance biodiversity, and it is now essential that we focus this additional 4 percent of land on filling the gaps in the highest priority areas for biodiversity to ensure that this increase is strategic and that it have maximum impact. As for the oceans, the agreed percentage represents a ten-fold increase over the roughly 1 percent currently protected and is an ambitious goal.

The agreement on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS), which was one of the most contentious points of this summit, was also a remarkable achievement for developing countries and have been a contentious issue since the earliest days of the Convention in 1993. "I won't say it's a miracle that we achieved this agreement, but it is surely historic", said Mittermeier.

With the slow progress of talks in the first week, there was fear that Nagoya would wind up like Copenhagen, but the success of this final day helped to validate the importance of global conventions like these in creating conservation policies and promoting actions on the ground. What is more, we applaud the $2 billion commitment by Japan three days ago, which really demonstrated to the delegates that the financial aspect of the convention was being taken seriously.

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Notes for editors:

DOWNLOAD: Photos of biodiversity 

B-roll of biodiversity available for download:
ftp://mediaguest:conservation2@visual.conservation.org
(please visually courtesy credit Conservation International)

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. To find out more about CI's policy positions and activities at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, please visit www.conservation.org/cbd