Economic Crisis Casts Shadow Over Biodiversity Talks

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The global economic crisis cast its shadow over UN talks that closed in India on Saturday after two weeks of intense wrangling on funding to reverse the decline of Earth’s natural resources. A deal was finally signed a day later than planned, after a succession of late-night sessions that pitted rich countries reticent to fork out more cash as they try to balance the books, against poor ones.

Transcript of Economic Crisis Casts Shadow Over Biodiversity Talks

  • 1. The global economic crisis castits shadow over UN talks thatclosed in India on Saturday aftertwo weeks of intense wranglingon funding to reverse the decline ofEarths natural resources.A deal was finally signed a daylater than planned, after asuccession of late-night sessionsthat pitted rich countries reticentto fork out more cash as they tryto balance the books, against poorones.

2. Several traditional donor countries cited theworlds economic troubles as a factor in the talks,held under the auspices of the UNs Conventionon Biological Diversity (CBD).Countries like us in difficult financial times aremaking big sacrifices with taxpayers money. Wewant to make sure... that we are not leavingourselves open to putting greater burden on ourtaxpayers, British Environment MinisterRichard Benyon told AFP on the penultimateday of the negotiations. 3. In the end, the deadlock was broken and developed statespledged to double by 2015 the aid they provide to poor countriesfor biodiversity projects, compared to a baseline of averageannual aid in the period 2006-2010.No figures were mentioned, but observer groups believed thenew annual figure would amount to about $10 billion (8 billioneuros) per year just 10 percent of what global consumersspent on chocolate last year.Some negotiators, especially in the European Union, hailed thedeal as a symbolic breakthrough in tough times.In the context of the financial crisis, this is a good deal,French Environment Minister Delphine Batho told AFP. 4. Yet CBD member countries lamented that the lack ofsufficient financial resources was hampering progress onbiodiversity, urging one another to consider all possiblesources and means that can help to meet the level of resourcesneeded.Many observers believe the pledge is not nearly enough, andwarned a failure to pay up now could spell disaster.Efforts to conserve nature must be urgently scaled up if wewant to meet the 2020 deadline to save all life on Earth, theInternational Union for Conservation of Nature said.Earlier in the week, the union had added 400 animals andplants to its authoritative Red List of species at risk of 5. A quarter of the worlds mammals, 13 percent of birds, 41percent of amphibians and 33 percent of reef-building coralsare now at risk of dying out, according to the list.If we do not invest in nature now, the cost will betremendous in terms of the loss of our global biodiversityand the vital ecosystem services it provides for humanity,said Conservation International biodiversity head LinaBarrera.Conservation group WWF said about $200 billion mustbe invested in biodiversity annually if the world is to meetthe targets it set two years ago to turn back the loss ofspecies and habitat that humans rely on for food, water andlivelihoods. 6. Whats been agreed in Hyderabad represents less than half thisnumber.Environment talks in Rio de Janeiro in June and a successionof UN climate conferences have been marked by a failure tomeet funding targets.We have a global economic crisis that is of course more urgentin Europe than anywhere else, and Europe has always been theleading political bloc in these negotiations, WWF executivedirector for conservation Lasse Gustavsson, told AFP.Environment negotiations have always been orchestrated by theEU. It is not happening here and it was not happening in Rio. 7. UN Environment Program executive director AchimSteiner said economic woes had affected the globalcommitment to solving the planets ills, which risks erodingthe ability of nations to act collectively in addressingfundamental environmental challenges.Yet the incentives to invest both economic andenvironmental are clearer than ever, he said.The economic crisis hit at a time that environment issueswere starting to gain serious ground on the global agenda.While the environment, global warming and biodiversitymay not have been completely abandoned, observers feelthings have not moved as quickly as they should have. 8. Countries decided at the last CBD conference in Nagoya,Japan, two years ago on an ambitious 20-point plan to turn backthe tide of biodiversity depletion by 2020.The so-called Aichi Biodiversity Targets include halving therate of habitat loss, expanding water and land areas underconservation, preventing the extinction of species on the threatenedlist, and restoring at least 15 percent of degraded ecosystems.But the plan has been hamstrung by a lack of cash forconservation, research, and the creation of green businessalternatives.The need for the worlds nations to come together to implement theAichi Targets grows more pressing with widespread extinctionincreasing every year, said Conservation International presidentRussell Mittermeier.