Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nagoya Protocol: COP 10's positive progress towards saving Earth's biodiversity

As a quick follow up to yesterday's post on the COP 10 biodiversity conference, there is some good news to report as the meeting in Nagoya, Japan of nearly 190 nations comes to a close.

The representatives have signed what is being called the Nagoya Protocol which is a strategic plan that addresses both specific biodiversity conservation goals (increasing to 17% protection of the land and inland waters and 10% for coastal and marine waters by 2020 - up from 13% and a paltry 1%, respectively) and a broader demand for each nation to look at how it can improve on diminishing the threat of overfishing, invasive species, and the general destruction of natural resources.

"This is a day to celebrate in terms of a new and innovative response to the alarming loss of biodiversity and ecosystems. And a day to celebrate in terms of opportunities for lives and livelihoods in terms of overcoming poverty and delivering sustainable development...This meeting has delivered a sea change in the global understanding of the mulit-trillion dollar importance of biodiversity of forests, wetlands and other ecosystems," declared Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environmental Programme.

While participating nations seem to be on board, the major challenge lurking in the wings is cost. Funding for the required implementation of the protocol was not determined during the two-week conference, preferring to leave to the devices of each nation. But Japan, recognized by some conservation factions as a conservation spoiler and major participant in overfishing, promised $2 billion towards biodiversity. Other cash-strapped nations may have to consider the alternative economic perils derived by not funding: collapsed fisheries, reduced tourism, greater food imports, and even population malnutrition.

While the Nagoya Protocol did not deliver everything that conservation groups had asked for (Conservation International, as an example, was pushing for higher percentage goals), it was, however, a game-changer compared to the results from previous international meetings.

A reason for cautious celebration with a strong dose of let's wait and see just what comes to pass.

Read the COP10 press release.
Read TIME writer Bryan Walsh's article on the Nagoya Protocol.

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