Sunday, October 24, 2010

Money in the way of new nature targets

The Pacific Voyage Media Team, 24 October Nagoya Japan

“Whether or not we pass some of these tipping points, whether or not coral reefs have a chance of surviving through the next century, will depend on actions taken over the next 10 years or so” – David Cooper

The level of ambition of financial resources and capacity building are among the most difficult issues in negotiating a new Strategic Plan for the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), a key official revealed yesterday.

David Cooper, the Secretary of COP 10 in Nagoya, said the meeting hopes to adopt the plan next week, if the difficulties can be resolved.

“The developing countries are saying that if we have ambitious targets for reducing biodiversity loss in various ways, then we also need ambitious targets for funding and there isn’t yet a clear agreement on that,” he explained.

“There is also question about the overall mission of whether we should be aiming to halt biodiversity loss by 2010 and what should that contain.”

The meeting, however, is united that the decade is crucial “to determine the future of life on earth.”

“And that’s the 10 years of the strategic plan being discussed here [in Nagoya],” he said.

“Whether or not we pass some of these tipping points, whether or not coral reefs have a chance of surviving through the next century, will depend on actions taken over the next 10 years or so.

“Whether or not we maintain tropical forest and we maintain the services that depend on those forests, and the capacity to produce food in those areas because that depends on the rainfall that comes from those forests, whether we are able to continue to extract a significant amount of food from the oceans, all these things will depend on the actions we take over the next ten years.”

The Strategic plan will have 20 targets.

“Some of those targets address things that are very familiar to the biodiversity and the conservation community,” Mr Cooper hinted.

“For instance, there are targets to establish protected areas, marine areas, terrestrial areas.
Other targets aim to prevent the extinction of known species, food protected areas and there are other targets which take the conservation community and the Environmental ministers outside their comfort zones into addressing drivers of biodiversity loss, things like over fishing, land use loss, pollution and so on.”

Mr Cooper said it was important to take actions which address the causes biodiversity loss.
“That means engaging sectors such as agriculture, fishery, forestry, energy (biofuel),” he said. “Ultimately, we will have the engage the whole of the society.”

Another key part of the plan is integrating biodiversity in national accounts at national level.

“We need to integrate the economic benefits of biodiversity into national decision making processes so concerns about biodiversity becomes not only a concern for Environment Ministers but the whole of government including Finance Ministers, Agricultural Ministers and Prime Ministers,” he said.

Financial resource is a major issue.

“We’re spending a trillion a year on actions that are mostly harmful to biodiversity and people. There is a lot of potential for redirecting those perverse incentives or a small proportion of those to actions that support biodiversity.

“For instance, if we make these reforms, the world will be a better place for most people though our vested interests may lose out from some of these changes and they will always defend their positions very firmly.”

Achieving targets set in the plan, if it is adopted, will require countries to translate such plans into national actions.

“Global targets are important, they show the aspirations of what we want to achieve but a target to a marine related area is not relevant to a land logged country. So each country has to take responsibility for their targets.

“Some countries maybe able to do more than others because of their economic development and others are expected to do more than others for example to reduce the rate of deforestation.”

Once the plan is adopted, there will be a two year period where countries will be expected to develop their own national plans.

“And this is where NGOS and the media have an important role to play to make sure those targets are implemented and monitored.

“Parties to the convention [CBD] will then report at each COP their progress. It will be an opportunity to assess what is the cumulative effect on the targets being set.”

In April 2002, the Parties to the Convention committed themselves to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth.

According to a report by the CBD titled Global Outlook 3, the 2010 biodiversity target has not been met at the global level.

Mr Cooper said this why a new Strategic Plan is necessary.

“I’m pretty confident the issues will be resolved and that a new strategic plan will be adopted next week.”

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