Delegates meeting in Nagoya, Japan, at the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP10) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) today agreed to take new steps to halt the global decline of biodiversity.
Representatives from 193 governments participating in the CBD agreed to 20 objectives for 2020, including a zero tolerance target for species extinction; a goal to protect 17 percent of all inland water and terrestrial areas, and 10 percent of marine areas; restoration of 15 percent of degraded ecosystems; and reducing habitat loss by at least 50 percent.
The agreement comes after countries failed to meet many of the 2010 global targets for CBD.
Anisocelis flavolineata, an orange, black, yellow, and red flag footed bug in Colombia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler in 2010
“This conference must be viewed as a success and a major global achievement,” said Russ Mittermeier, President of Conservation International, in a statement. “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.
Some participants say Japan’s announcement that it would commit $2 billion in funding toward biodiversity helped reenergize the talks, which had stalled over targets and rights over genetic resources.
In the end, the conference produced the agreement on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS), which aims to stop biopiracy and reward countries for genetic resources.
“I won’t say it’s a miracle that we achieved this agreement, but it is surely historic,” said Mittermeier.
Eupholus bennetti, a type of weevil, in West Papua, Indonesia on the island of New Guinea. Photo by Rhett A. Butler in 2010
The agreement also named water as a particularly important ecosystem service—a recognition that should lead to better protection of wetlands, rivers, and forests—and established controls on geoengineering.
“No climate-related geo-engineering activities that may affect biodiversity take place, until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities and appropriate consideration of the associated risks for the environment and biodiversity and associated social, economic and cultural impacts, with the exception of small-scale scientific research studies,” stated the geoengineering measure adopted under the CBD.
High-level negotiations will begin again next month with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico.
Harrison Ford chides US for spurning international biodiversity treaty
(10/28/2010) In a speech in Nagoya, Japan at the UN’s Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD) actor and conservationist, Harrison Ford, called on delegates to put aside differences and adopt a strong treaty to protect biodiversity. As a US citizen, he also urged his country to become a full signatory of 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,” said Ford.
The march to extinction accelerates
(10/26/2010) A fifth of the world’s vertebrate species (i.e. mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish) are threatened with extinction, according to a massive new study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN); and the situation is worsening for the world’s wildlife: on average 52 species of mammals, birds, and amphibians move one category closer to extinction every year (the IUCN Red List categorizes species as Least Concern, Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered, Extinct in the Wild, and then Extinct). However, the news isn’t all bad. The study found that conservation action does work: in the first analysis of its kind, researchers found that the global biodiversity decline would have been 18% worse if not for conservation attention, “nonetheless,” the authors—174 scientists from 38 countries—write, “current conservation efforts remain insufficient to offset the main drivers of biodiversity loss.” According to the study, these drivers include agricultural expansion, logging, over-exploitation of species, and invasive species.
Losing nature’s medicine cabinet
(10/04/2010) In all the discussions of saving the world’s biodiversity from extinction, one point is often and surprisingly forgotten: the importance of the world’s species in providing humankind with a multitude of life-saving medicines so far, as well as the certainty that more vital medications are out there if only we save the unheralded animals and plants that contain cures unknown. Already, species have provided humankind everything from quinine to aspirin, from morphine to numerous cancer and HIV-fighting drugs. “As the ethnobotanist Dr. Mark Plotkin commented, the history of medicine can be written in terms of its reliance on and utilization of natural products,” physician Christopher Herndon told mongabay.com. Herndon is co-author of a recent paper in the journal Biotropica, which calls for policy-makers and the public to recognize how biodiversity underpins not only ecosystems, but medicine.