Day One

10 May 2010 | News story

The gloomy, continuing trend of biodiversity loss was prevalent throughout today’s plenary sessions. The reality is that most, if not all nations, did not meet the 2010 targets, writes Nikita Lopoukhine, Chair of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas, after the meeting’s first day.

This fact was noted by a number of speakers that included Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, and Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The meeting saw the release of the Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 publication which was featured in Dr Thomas Lovejoy’s plenary address. Dr Lovejoy is a world-renowned tropical biologist, biodiversity chair at the Heinz Centre for Science, Economics and the Environment, and chief biodiversity adviser to the president of the World Bank.

The Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 report presents many downward trending graphs that raise the question whether world ecosystems are approaching their tipping points - a point where they might not be able to recover from the ongoing degradation brought on by unsustainable practices around the world. Dr Lovejoy brought forward the spectre of climate change where science is warning that even a two-degree increase is dangerous but in reality the world is careering well beyond that number, given that emissions are not being curbed. Dr. Lovejoy pointed out that restoration of ecosystems is an option for the world as it presented an opportunity to sequester 40PPM of carbon.

It was not all bad news. Endangered species that have recovered give evidence that if there is will, we can reverse the negative trends. The strong global response in the establishment of the protected area estate is also a good outcome. Yet, even in this bit of good news, there is serious concern over the lack of capacity and investment in general. Biodiversity conservation receives but a fraction of the investment we put into infrastructure development of national war machines. Ironically, we are investing in the wrong wars: our security is in fact threatened by the loss of biodiversity and not by the location of national boundaries nor by who will have the last drop of oil to convert to a greenhouse emission.

After the plenary, two working groups began discussing their respective agendas but broke over the lunch period for side events that covered everything from climate change and biodiversity, the future of the Programme of Work on Protected Areas, and the Amazon basin.

IUCN was prevalent throughout the meeting. Members, Commissions and Secretariat were busy running side events and manning displays. A few Councillors are in attendance either as Party delegates, Chair of Commission and of course the SBSTTA Chair, Spencer Thomas.