IUCN: Forget the banks, bail out nature


(Text from IUCN press release 6 May 2010) Never has the world faced a more pressing crisis than the current loss of biodiversity, which affects every man, woman and child. The gap between the pressure on our natural resources and governments’ response to the deterioration is widening.  IUCN is calling for governments to come up with a “bailout plan,” a 10-year strategy that will help countries halt and reverse this loss.

“Twenty-one percent of all known mammals, 30 per cent of all known amphibians,12 per cent of all known birds, 35 per cent of conifers and cycads, 17 per cent of sharks and 27 per cent of reef-building corals assessed for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species are threatened with extinction,” says Bill Jackson, IUCN Deputy Director General. “If the world made equivalent losses in share prices there would be a rapid response and widespread panic, as we saw during the recent economic crisis. The loss of biodiversity, crucial to life on earth, has, in comparison, produced little response. By ignoring the urgent need for action we stand to pay a much higher price in the long term than the world can afford.”

Key decisions which could help reverse these trends will be decided at a meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice to the Convention on Biological Diversity, or SBSTTA, which takes place in Nairobi, Kenya from 10 to 21 May 2010. Scientists, including a delegation from IUCN, will work with the world’s governments to draw up a big plan” on the best way to save all life on earth, the planet’s biodiversity. Some of the main areas that will be discussed  include the biodiversity of protected areas, inland waters, marine and coastal areas, links between biodiversity and climate change, biofuels and invasive species.

“Countries are taking a very shortsighted view of the need to fuel their economies at the expense of nature, so much so that we’re now at crisis point when it comes to the loss of biodiversity,”  says Jane Smart, Director, IUCN Biodiversity Conservation Group. “We can’t afford to forget that all economic activity is linked to nature. We need new targets and a concerted effort to ensure our natural assets are protected.  This year we have a one-off opportunity to really bring home to the world the importance of the need to save nature for all life on earth. If we don’t come up with a new big plan now, the planet will not survive.”

Last week it was confirmed that world leaders have failed to deliver commitments made in 2002 to reduce the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, and have instead overseen alarming biodiversity declines. Those are the findings of a study by the 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership, a collaboration of more than 40 international organizations and agencies, including IUCN, which carried out the first comprehensive assessment of how the targets made through the 2002 Convention on Biological Diversity have not been met.

Decisions taken at SBSTTA in Nairobi will provide a scientific basis for discussions that will take place in October in Nagoya, Japan, at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

“SBSTTA is a crucial step in the process to stop the extinction crisis. If governments accept the science that’s presented to them in Nairobi, we stand a  chance of reversing the current loss of biodiversity,” says Sonia Peña Moreno, IUCN Policy Officer- Biodiversity. “ If they choose to reject the fact that the natural world is in real danger, the effects could be devastating.”

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