D-Day dawns for crunch biodiversity talks
HYDERABAD, India – Two years after the world set targets for turning back the loss of Earth's dwindling natural resources, rich countries face pressure on Friday to come up with the money to make this possible.
Just days after environmentalists added 400 plants and animals to a "Red List" of species at risk of extinction, ministers from more than 80 countries are set to conclude UN biodiversity negotiations in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad. UN countries agreed at a conference in Japan in 2010 to reverse by 2020 the worrying decline in natural resources that humans depend on for food, shelter and livelihoods.
The 20-point plan is hamstrung by a lack of money for conservation programmes in a time of global financial austerity.
"In the difficult economic circumstances in Europe, it's unlikely that we'll have a big financial deal tomorrow," Lasse Gustavsson, a conservation expert at green group WWF, told AFP on the penultimate day of the talks.
Held under the auspices of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Hyderabad meeting is meant to come up with tangible ways of executing what have become known as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
They include halving the rate of habitat loss, expanding water and land areas under conservation, preventing the extinction of species on the threatened list, and restoring at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems.
A quarter of the world's mammals, 13 per cent of birds, 41 per cent of amphibians and 33 per cent of reef-building corals are at risk of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's "Red List," updated on Wednesday.
Estimates vary, but experts say hundreds of billions of dollars will be required to achieve the targets set in Japan.
Current conservation spending is estimated at about $10 billion per year. Some negotiators want to see rich countries double their biodiversity spending in the developing world from the average for 2006-2010.
British Environment Minister Richard Benyon told AFP on Thursday that London was happy to contribute but wanted to be sure "that we are not leaving ourselves open to putting greater burden on our taxpayers."
The ministerial section of the talks, which opened Wednesday, comes at the tail-end of two weeks of tough negotiations by senior bureaucrats from 184 CBD parties.
The convention, to which 193 countries are signatories, marks its 20th anniversary this year.
It has already missed one key deadline when it failed to meet the target set to halt biodiversity loss by 2010. AFP