Species Decline and the 10th Convention on Biological Diversity

Gillian Lyons

In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly, recognizing that human activity was causing a highly accelerated rate of species extinctions, and expressing concern that such mass extinctions could have far reaching social, economic, environmental and cultural impacts passed G.A. Resolution 61/203.  This resolution reaffirmed a target date, 2010, set at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, by which time a significant reduction in rate of loss of biodiversity should have been achieved.  2010, as the target date, was named the International Year of Biodiversity.    

           Now that it is 2010, it can easily be seen that this goal has not been achieved. Arguably, species, such as the West African Black Rhinoceros pictured above, are disappearing from the Earth at a faster rate than they were when the resolution was passed. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, in its Global Biodiversity Outlook publication, itself notes that while setting the 2010 goal spurred some 170 countries into creating biodiversity strategies, the goal of reducing the rate of extinctions is far from being met due to economic and political pressures. In fact, the publication acknowledges that continuing species extinctions far above historic rates will continue into the century.   

 Currently, approximately 170 member states have come together in Nagoya, Japan for the 10th annual Convention on Biological Diversity.  The mood of the conference is far from cheery.  In his opening speech, Japan’s Environmental Minster Ryo Matsumoto had this to say: “All life on Earth exists thanks to the benefits from biodiversity in the forms of fertile soil, clear water and clean air.  We are now close to a ‘tipping point’ – that is, we are about to reach a threshold beyond which biodiversity loss will become irreversible, and may cross that threshold in the next 10 years if we do not make proactive efforts for conserving biodiversity.”  There are countries, however, which are serious about creating real change in this pattern of destruction. Just today it was announced that Japan’s Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, pledged 2 billion dollars in funding to help aid biodiversity initiatives in developing countries.  While it is hard to imagine the United States ever donating such funds to the cause, I for one am hoping that Japan’s initiative spurs other countries to take this issue, a incredibly important issue that will in time affect us all, more seriously.

One Response

  1. […] “Species Decline and the 10th Convention on Biological Diversity” and related posts (animalblawg.wordpress.com) […]

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