Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wildlife Declines: environmentalists will press issue at RIO+20 conference

In June, the RIO+20 conference will be held in Rio de Janeiro.  This conference name is more of a nickname, as it is officially the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.  

Many of the issues discussed revolve around land use and crop yields in addition to water usage and availability.  The goal is to be able to provide for human populations in a responsible manner that can guarantee available resources for generations to come.

None of this can be accomplished without considering the impact mankind is having on nature and wildlife in general.  The BBC recently reported that environmentalists will be pressuring government leaders at the conference to make a more concerted effort to protect nature as a critical component of any sustainable development policy.

 "The Rio+20 conference is an opportunity for the world to get serious about the need for development to be made sustainable," said David Nussbaum, CEO of World Wildlife Fund-UK.  "We need to elevate the sense of urgency, and I think this is ultimately not only about our lives but the legacy we leave for future generations."  

Environmentalist will be doing more than just talking a good game.  They will be arming themselves with new data to emphasize the importance of nature conservation.  The Living Planet Report has recently issued need data based on analysis of trends seen in over 9,000 animal populations compiled by the Zoological Society of London.  The report confirms an overall 30% decline in wildlife since 1970.  Wildlife in tropical areas, particularly in tropical lakes and rivers, showed the greatest decline of as much as 60%.

The Global Footprint Network is also conducting analysis of our global footprint - our impact based on a composite measure of our use of fossil fuels, cropland for food production, wood consumption, and wild-caught fish.  In areas of the world where there is high development in lands that harbor harsh environments, our impact is most noticeable.  The Persian Gulf emerges as the region with the highest per-capita ecological footprint, with Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates topping the list of the least sustainable nations.  But developed nations like the United States, Denmark, Belgium, and Australia are not far behind.

However, there are some rays of hope.  In Pakistan, a program has proved successful in reducing water consumption and pesticide and fertilizer use in growing cotton, while still producing the same yield.  It just takes initiative and an understanding that it is a global issue, not confined to one nation or one region of the world.

"We need to address this with the same urgency and determination with which we tackled the systemic financial crisis globally," said Nussbaum in describing how it is not too late to turn existing negative trends around. 

Source: BBC News             

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