Despite increasing recognition of the biodiversity crisis and its impacts on human well-being, the scale of the government response is far from commensurate with the magnitude of the calamity, says IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 12), closing today in South Korea.
“This year’s biodiversity talks ended with a renewed sense of urgency if we want to meet the 2020 biodiversity targets,” says IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre.”Many creative and interesting responses to the biodiversity crisis have been showcased, highlighting how nature can provide solutions to so many of society’s challenges. However, we will need to see a massive scaling up of the good work underway in the remaining years of this UN Decade for Biodiversity in order to have an impact.”
The results of the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook 4 (GBO-4) released at the opening of the meeting on 6 October showed that countries need to respond by strengthening biodiversity conservation measures and accelerating implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, to bring about an improvement in the status of biodiversity.
The Plan, which includes a set of 20 biodiversity targets to be met by 2020, was agreed by most of the world’s governments at the UN biodiversity summit in Nagoya in 2010. It represents the only global unified agenda to tackle ongoing biodiversity loss. This year’s meeting showed that the response from governments has been ‘business as usual’ and many countries are still far from fulfilling the ambitions of that plan, according to IUCN.
The Conference also recognized the critical link between the loss of habitat and the emergence of infectious diseases such as Ebola, which is plaguing many parts of the planet, pledging to do more to make such links clear to the wider world.
“Biodiversity loss is linked to so many of society’s ills, including increased frequency of natural disasters, climate change and food insecurity,” says Jane Smart, IUCN Global Director, Biodiversity Conservation Group. “It is imperative that governments place biodiversity conservation far higher up the political agenda and convert the fine words and pledges made at this meeting into tangible action for the sake of life on earth.”
The meeting saw the entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing, which will result in the enhancement of both monetary and non-monetary benefits to providers and users of genetic resources worldwide. It will also encourage further conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
Countries were urged to effectively “mainstream” biodiversity into other sectors, national development policies and planning processes, and to reiterate commitments for a substantial increase in funding for the implementation of the Strategic Plan. Parties promised to double total biodiversity-related funding or at least maintain current levels until 2020.
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Conserving the earth’s most valuable natural places and promoting nature’s solutions to global challenges is the focus of the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 taking place in Sydney, Australia from 12 to 19 November.