There is no Planet B

28 October 2010 | News story

As the world is holding its breath before the final outcome of the UN biodiversity summit in Nagoya tomorrow, IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre addressed the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity calling for "a different kind of tipping point - a positive one that will guarantee a future for all life on Earth".

"We are coming close to the end of an intense two-week Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity", said Julia Marton-Lefèvre in her statement to senior ministers and heads of state from more than 120 countries. "The Nagoya summit is the culmination of the International Year of Biodiversity, and the world is expecting governments present to agree on the most important outcomes since the Convention came into force: a new Strategic Plan with achievable yet ambitious biodiversity targets, an implementable and strong protocol on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing (ABS) and a balanced resource mobilization strategy for the enhanced implementation of the Convention.

Tomorrow, we will be back in this hall, and I hope we will be celebrating the achievement of these outcomes. If so, we can quickly move to the real business: supporting the implementation of the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan and unfolding the ABS protocol at the national level. But for both to be put into practice, all parties need to count on increased resources. New commitments have to be made and adequate resources have to be secured for biodiversity conservation. We are grateful for the generous financial support announced by the Prime Minister of Japan in this hall yesterday which is an excellent example of the way forward.

We still have work to do in the next 24 hours if we are to achieve this ambition. The stakes are high.

IUCN believes that these agreements, which will in many ways define the future of life on our planet, are within our reach at this meeting. Our planet cannot afford a different outcome.

The latest IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ released yesterday, tells us that nature’s very backbone is at risk – with a third of species assessed seriously threatened and many among them facing the risk of extinction.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity study, known as TEEB, warns us that many of the benefits of nature that we have been taking for granted and enjoyed for free up until now are at risk of running out.

The Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 tells us that we are on the verge of catastrophic and irreversible tipping points.

What we decide at this meeting will change the future of life on Earth, including our own.

And many solutions are available to us.

We know that targeted conservation action works. Results released yesterday show us that the status of biodiversity would have declined by an additional 20 percent at least, if conservation action had not been taken.

We know that biodiversity and the ecosystem services it supports are multi-trillion dollar assets that must be well managed. TEEB shows us that our return on investment in, for example, protected areas, will be at least a hundredfold.

We know that development objectives can only be met with a healthy environment. All six and a half billion inhabitants of our planet, and especially the two billion of the world’s poorest people, depend on nature for their very survival.

It is time we stopped considering biodiversity as expendable, and any related expenditure a write-off.

It is time we valued and conserved nature — which has been IUCN’s vision since our founding 63 years ago.

There is no Planet B and so there can be no Plan B.

There are positive signs all around us, and a critical mass of political will is now needed to make this conference a success. If we can ‘pull out all the stops’ at this meeting , Nagoya could be a different kind of tipping point - a positive one that will guarantee a future for all life on Earth.

Beginning from next week, IUCN, with its 1,200 Members, 10,000 scientists and experts, and 1,000 staff stands ready to put the outcomes from this conference into action."

Listen to Julia Marton-Lefèvre comment on the meeting's developments so far: