14 April 2006

Research Centers, UN Agencies Partner to Save Species by 2010

CURITIBA, Brazil, March 28, 2006 (ENS) - To save life on Earth, some of the world’s top research centers and agencies specializing in biodiversity have signed on to a new alliance of cooperation with the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Under the agreement, signed last night in Curitiba, where the CBD is holding its biannual meeting, the institutes will use their expertise and skills to help developing countries substantially reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity by the target date of 2010.

The partnership will initially bring together the expertise and resources of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC; the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle de France; the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in London; the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation; the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences; the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; and the CBD Secretariat.

Signing on behalf of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight said the agreement would go a long way towards helping countries around the world meet the challenges of their 2010 biodiversity targets.

"Each of the seven participants brings a vast breadth and depth of experience and expertise with them and Kew is recognized around the world as being a leader in its field."

"Kew's mission is to enable better management of the Earth's environment by increasing knowledge and understanding of the plant and fungal kingdoms - the basis of all life on Earth. By joining with these six other leading organisations, Kew is further able to share its knowledge with others around the world."

The participants will organize training and education activities focusing on policy, technical and scientific issues relevant to the implementation of the Convention, a treaty with 187 government Parties that took effect in 1993.

Professor Sir Peter Crane, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, said, "Kew greatly values this opportunity to work with others to enhance capacity to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity at global, regional and national levels. This MoU provides an opportunity to share our experience and knowledge, to build further partnerships, and to learn from our collaborators."

Ahmed Djoghlaf, the CBD’s executive secretary, said, “I am honored and excited by this historic agreement between the Convention and these top notch institutes and bodies working in the field of biodiversity.”

“There are many ingredients that are needed to implement, to realize the 2010 target, including building the skills and know how of experts in developing countries so they can fully take part in achieving our mutual goals,” Djoghlaf said.

Opening the ministerial session Monday, Djoghlaf said, "We are the last generation capable of stopping the destruction of the environment in time."

He asked the ministers to move quickly, since the main goal of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which was launched at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, is to achieve a meaningful reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional, and national level by 2010.

"Time is passing, and the clock does not cease to tick. We have four years to fulfill the pledge made by the heads of State," Djoghlaf warned.

Under a related but separate agreement, also signed today, an alliance of nine United Nations and conservation organizations also agreed to set up a "heads of agencies task force” to advance the 2010 target.

The agencies involved are the United Nations Development Programme; the United Nations Committee on Trade and Development; the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Convention on Migratory Species.

Other members of the alliance are the global conservation organization WWF, the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, and IUCN-the World Conservation Union.

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Topfer, pointed out that the 2010 targets are very significant to the UN's Millennium Development Goals. "Nature's capital is more important than financial capital and is just as important as human capital, if we mean to reach our targets," he said.

The UK and Brazilian governments joined together this morning to encourage businesses to engage in biodiversity issues.

Co-hosting a business and biodiversity breakfast in Curitiba, Minister Knight said it is essential that there is more engagement with business at both international and national levels, aiming to reduce business impacts on the natural environment.

"Our biodiversity and natural resources are the world's greatest asset and they are declining rapidly. Business must play a part in helping us reach the 2010 target for halting the loss of biodiversity, we cannot hope to achieve our aims otherwise," the minister said.

The main outcome of the meeting, which concludes March 31, will be to give a new impetus to the Convention and agree on a roadmap to achieve the 2010 Biodiversity Target.

The meeting is expected to give a new impetus to the negotiation of an international regime on access and benefit-sharing, one of the three pillars of the Convention.

Delegates are expected to adopt a set of measures and objectives for the protection and sustainable use of the vulnerable biodiversity of islands and another on arid lands.

The delegates will adopt new initiatives to raise awareness globally on the seriousness and grave consequences of the biodiversity crisis.

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