World governments urged to be more ambitious in efforts to save biodiversity

5/17/2010

Major NGOs intervene in UN conference to propose actions to stop environment destruction until 2020

Nairobi, Kenya – Some of the world’s leading non-governmental organizations alerted world governments in a preparatory meeting for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) yesterday in Nairobi to the alarming rate of degradation of the environment and urged them to be more ambitious in their efforts to address this problem.

Biodiversity is being lost at a pace never seen before, undermining the capacity of ecosystems to provide essential services and goods that underpin the livelihoods of millions of people and the global economy, said the NGOs in a statement. The underlying causes of this problem have not been addressed adequately, they said, because current economic and governance systems and policies are promoting the over consumption of natural resources to an unsustainable level.

“We are at a turning point. Fundamental change is urgently required. Society needs a new vision that links socio-economic and environmental policy”, said the statement (see all signatories below). “The good news is: we can still do it. We can learn from existing successes and develop intelligent and equitable approaches for the future.”

The statement was read during an intervention in a working session of delegates from 193 countries gathered in the United Nations Environment Programme’s building in Nairobi for a two-week meeting known as SBSTTA (Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice).

The SBSTTA provides scientific advice to the decision-making body of the CBD.  Its recommendations will be incorporated into a Strategic Plan that should be agreed by world leaders when they meet in Japan later this year to commit to targets to reduce the loss of biodiversity over the next ten years. The targets include eliminating subsidies harmful to the environment, addressing overfishing and establishing norms for the equitable sharing of benefits arising from biodiversity.

The NGOs proposed the reformulation of the targets to ensure that governments recognize the value and benefits of biodiversity for relevant sectors of the economy, as well as the cost they will bear from its loss. Mobilization of resources and action was urged at national and international level to address the biodiversity crisis.

“We are seeing the degradation of nature right before our eyes, and the responses have been inadequate so far,” said Lina Barrera, Senior Manager at the Center for Conservation and Government at Conservation International. “One of the main things we need to do is to bring under protection more of the important areas for environment conservation, from species to the whole systems they form, if we want to have abundant drinking water and fresh air for generations to come. 

The intervention made by the NGOs was supported by Malawi, which means that it will be considered further by the delegates this week, and could be incorporated in the final version of the plan.

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The statement was read by Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Senior Advisor Policy & Advocacy at BirdLife International, on behalf of the following NGOs:
Birdlife International
BGCI -- Botanic Gardens Conservation International
Conservation International
EcoNexus
Ecoropa
Forest People’s Programme
Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina
Global Forest Coalition
Global Invasive Species Programme
Greenpeace
Japan Civil Network for Convention on Biological Diversity (approximately 80 member organisations)
Plantlife International
The Gaia Foundation
The Timberwatch Coalition, South Africa
TRAFFIC
VAS – Green Environment Society (federation of 50 organisations in Italy)
Wetlands International
WWF

An audio recording of the intervention is available upon request. For more information contact:

Patricia Yakabe Malentaqui
Press Office, Conservation International
Mobile: +1 571 225-8345
Email: p.malentaqui@conservation.org

Notes to the 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 for the well-being of humanity. With headquarters in Washington, DC, CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information, visit www.conservation.org

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 and sustainable use of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits from utilization of genetic resources. With 193 Parties, the Convention has near universal participation among countries committed to preserving life on Earth. 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, 157 countries and the European Community are party to the Protocol. The Secretariat of the Convention and its Cartagena Protocol is located in Montreal. www.cbd.int/