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Behind on biodiversity targets, govts pledge to increase funding for conservation

Coquerel's Sifaka (Propithecus coquereli) in Madagascar.
Coquerel’s Sifaka (Propithecus coquereli) in Madagascar. Photos by Rhett Butler.

On the heels of a report showing that the world is far behind on targets to halve habitat loss, cut pollution, and reduce overfishing, delegates meeting at a United Nations conference in Pyeongchang, South Korea have agreed to increase step up efforts to conserve biodiversity in developing nations.

After nearly two weeks of discussions, governments pledged to double average annual biodiversity funding relative to the level spent between 2006-2010. “Small island developing states” and “least developed countries” are the primary targets for funding.

The 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) also produced a series of agreements on other conservation programs, including increased focus on ocean conservation and integration of biodiversity into economic agendas.

Strawberry poison dart frog in Costa Rica.

“Their commitments show the world that biodiversity is a solution to the challenges of sustainable development and will be a central part of any discussions for the post-2015 development agenda and its sustainable development goals,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme Achim Steiner in a statement. “From food and water security to livelihoods and disasters risk reduction, biodiversity is a powerful engine that underpins the delivery of current and future sustainable development objectives. The cost of inaction to halt biodiversity decline would give rise to increasing and cumulative economic annual losses to the value of around US $14 trillion by 2050.”

The conference additionally committed to support countries in implementing national biodiversity conservation plans and push to phase out “incentive policies that are harmful to biodiversity.”

The measures came just days after a U.N. report found the world is lagging badly on 20 biodiversity commitments made at the same conference four years ago in Aichi, Japan.

Knobbed hornbill from Sulawesi, Indonesia

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