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Press Conference on 2010 International Year of Biodiversity

3 November 2009
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on 2010 International Year of Biodiversity


“2010 is going to be a historical year for the biodiversity family,” Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ahmed Djoghlaf, said, as he launched the logos for the International Year on Biodiversity and the tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-10), to be held in Nagoya, Japan, next October.

Seeking to stop an unprecedented loss of species ‑‑ at a rate that some experts estimate to be 1,000 times the natural progression ‑‑ as a result of human activities, the General Assembly declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity.  The Year provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity for life on Earth, reflect on what has been done to safeguard it, and focus on the urgency of action.

As a key element of those efforts, for the first time in the history of the United Nations, a high-level segment of the General Assembly on “Biodiversity:  Challenges and Responses” would be convened in September 2010 in New York, with participation of Heads of State and Government, Mr. Djoghlaf told a Headquarters press conference.

Four weeks after that High-Level event, the Nagoya Biodiversity Summit would elaborate a new vision for 2050, set new targets and develop a new strategy to address biodiversity loss.  The tenth Conference of the Parties in Nagoya would aim to adopt an international regime of access and benefit sharing.  The Year would end in Kanazawa, Japan, with a ceremony marking the beginning of the International Year of Forests in 2011, he said.

The logo for the International Year of Biodiversity ‑‑ to be celebrated under the slogan “Biodiversity is life, biodiversity is our life” ‑‑ comprises a host of symbolic elements, showing intertwining representations of flora, fauna and human figures within the figures 2010.  In that connection, Mr. Djoghlaf informed reporters that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for the International Year on Biodiversity had been received today.  Next week, a dedicated Biodiversity Year website would be launched.  Further, over the coming year, a number of workshops for journalists would take place, the first of them in Montreal later this month.

The COP-10 logo, in the form of origami,portrays human life in harmony with nature, by arranging diverse flora and fauna in a circular shape with an adult and child in the centre.  “The human figures represent our commitment to safeguard our precious biodiversity for the next generation,” he said, adding that the slogan of COP-10, “Life in harmony, into the future”, articulated the need for coexistence between humans and biodiversity for the sake of future generations.

Mr. Djoghlaf said that, with 2010 just 69 days away, it was clear that not a single country in the world had met either the goal of achieving, “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” ‑‑ what is now widely known as the 2010 Biodiversity Target ‑‑ or a more ambitious Gutenberg Commitment of 27 European leaders to stop the loss of biodiversity in Europe by 2010.  The Global Biodiversity Outlook would be issued in May 2010, based on national reports on the implementation of the Target.  So far, 86 such reports had been received, he added.

He went on to outline the need for a new strategic plan on implementation of the Convention, adding that all the strategies developed so far would need to be revised to integrate the outcome of the Nagoya Summit.  COP-10 would also foster partnerships between Ministers of the Environment and local authorities.  Along with Heads of State, about 300 mayors from various countries would also attend that meeting. He said their participation was particularly important because, with growing urbanization of the world, the biodiversity battle would be won or lost in cities.  To integrate the outcome of Nagoya in development cooperation, there would also be summits of parliamentarians, chief executive officers, and heads of bilateral and multilateral agencies.

To a question about the quickening pace of biodiversity loss, Mr. Djoghlaf said that the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment had shown that two thirds of ecosystems around the world were in a serious state of degradation.  About 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity could be found in the tropical forests, yet 13 million hectares of forests were disappearing each year.  While some experts were now talking about the sixth global mass extinction, for the first time in history, many were suggesting a human-generated mass disappearance of species.

Asked if any countries had been adding forests instead of losing them, he acknowledged that trend was under way in a number of countries, including Japan.  About 70 per cent of that country’s territory was covered with forests.  With sustainable management, it was possible not only to preserve forests, but also use them sustainably.

That was what the Convention on Biological Diversity was about, seeking not only to conserve biodiversity, but also promote its sustainable use.  Also, what made the Convention unique was its objective of ensuring access to genetic resources and benefit sharing.  He said that a new international regime on access and benefit sharing, which was expected to be adopted in Nagoya, would be a major breakthrough in that regard.

Responding to another question, he drew attention to the Convention’s agro-biodiversity programme, which sought to encourage continued protection and promotion of crop genetic resources.  Historically, humankind had been known to use more than 12,000 plants to sustain itself.  Now, it was only relying on three ‑‑ maize, rice and wheat.  Thus, the loss of the planet’s genetic resources was a major problem.

About the role of corporations, he said that seed companies were bound to realize in the near future that they could not rely on a limited number of species.  For example, should the world rely on a single kind of bananas when the entire global crop could disappear if there were a problem with that culture?  The problem should be addressed not only through regulation and treaties, but also through education and the engagement of all the stakeholders, including the private sector.  In fact, the purpose of the International Year of Biodiversity was to raise awareness of the consequences of the loss of biodiversity.

He added that people were not likely to change their behaviour, unless their “hearts, soles and pockets” were involved.  The business community must understand that it was in its interest to protect biodiversity.  At the end of this month, a major meeting on business and biodiversity would take place in Jakarta, Indonesia.  The purpose was to demonstrate that the foundations of the market of tomorrow ‑‑ which would be “green” ‑‑ must be laid today, and that those companies that failed to adjust would be forced to shut down.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.